Jan Malcolm, former Minnesota Commissioner of Health, says fixing the federal health care system is more doable than people think. True, reform legislation is estimated to cost nearly $1 trillion over the next decade. But the federal government is expected to spend $35 trillion on health care in the next 10 years, Malcolm says. And the current system has lots of room for improvement.
“We get horrible value for what we spend,” she says. “It doesn’t make it easy politically; [the money] is there to be saved.”
Malcolm, who is now CEO of Courage Center, made her comments today at the joint conference of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the Minnesota Council of Foundations. She made the following points about potential savings:
- The U.S. spends 50 percent more per capita than any other country on health care.
- We rank 37th overall in a World Health Organization analysis of population health and system effectiveness.
- The only place we rank #1 is in life expectancy at age 80
Malcolm says improving the health care system will take a long-term commitment. She makes a powerful case for the need to pass a health care reform bill, but reminds us that what happens this year is not the end of the journey.
“What passes won’t be perfect,” she says. “We will have to keep working on it.”
And the wheels are spinning fast. One version of the health care reform bill is expected to come to a floor vote in the House this Saturday. That particular bill does not include nonprofits in provisions that allow small for-profit employers to get subsidies to help them afford health insurance for their employees. MCN has drafted a sign-on letter to members of Congress supporting health care reform and equal treatment for nonprofits. The deadline to participate is Nov. 13.
Tim Delaney, president and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, promoted the sign-on letter at the conference. He praised Rep. Betty McCollum for leading efforts to try to get nonprofits covered in the tax credit portion of the bill. If the bill is going to give relief to small businesses, Delaney said, “why not to small nonprofits which are set up for public good?”