Reform through reduced cost

The insurance mandate is unjust without health care cost control.

Most graduating students need not fear: The new health care bill lets you stay on your parentsâÄô insurance plan until age 26. After that, though, the cost of care may become a major issue. At the health care summit that now seems ages past, Republicans said they wanted to âÄústart overâÄù on a clean sheet of paper in order to deal with the cost of our health care system step by step. With President Barack Obama signing the health care bill into law Tuesday, the chance to start over has passed. But now Congress does, in a way, have a clean sheet of paper on which to start dealing with the problems of health care costs. Republicans have articulated a few legitimate cost-control ideas that Congress could pass with widespread support. The first is the ability to buy insurance across state lines to increase competition. However, this is a good idea if and only if there is a minimum standard to protect Americans from what happened in the credit card industry. Large banks are only subject to the laws of their âÄúhome state,âÄù so they incorporate in states with no cap on interest rates, allowing them to charge arbitrarily large interest rates across the country. With minimum standards, buying across state lines would increase competition and lower costs. Other ideas include âÄúundercover patientsâÄù to expose Medicare fraud and malpractice lawsuit reform, both of which merit consideration. The bill that Obama signed Tuesday was a good first step, but in many ways the work of reform has just begun. CongressâÄô next step is to take a serious look at cost control, without which the mandate to purchase insurance will prove unjust.