For the 24 years I've hosted "AirTalk," complex public policy issues have been our bread-and-butter discussion. I'm coming to the conclusion that getting a handle on the finances of our healthcare system, and comparing them to a modified model that hasn't been tried before, is about as challenging as any topic we've done. I'm not even talking about the politics of all the stakeholders involved. I'm just looking at the numbers.
On Wednesday morning, we held over Yale health policy expert Ted Marmor so that he could continue with his analysis of the Democrats' bills in Congress. He kept raising one important financial challenge after another, and was critical of how those who follow just a political philosophy in trying to solve the problems of rising costs and covering the uninsured are ignoring critical parts of the system.
It's so much easier to attach onself to a particular plan, or to argue for a minor tweak to the status quo. Where this really gets messy is trying to objectively look at the costs of our current system, the obvious and hidden ones, to look at the realistic costs of reforms, and then be straight with the public about how it could be funded. That's a lot to ask of a Congress that's being hammered by lobbyists on all sides.
As for the rest of us, it's so much easier to argue for a plan that's based in our political orientation and then reflexively argue back against those who attack it. To really debate healthcare, using serious numbers and a broader array of costs, is far tougher. I'm glad we have analysts like Ted Marmor whose job it is to do it.