Economists Tout Health Care Reform In Letter To Obama

In a boost to the Obama administration's efforts to frame health care reform as an economic boon, a group of 20 health economists sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday touting the fiscal results of passing reform legislation.

The group lists four specific elements of reform as crucial to controlling costs and righting the fiscal trajectory of the health care system's overhaul. They include making legislation deficit neutral (which describes both the House and Senate version of reform), including an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans (which is part of the Senate's version of reform, but not the House's version), creating an independent Medicare commission (also in the Senate bill), and general changes to the delivery system.

There is, notably, no mention of a public option for insurance coverage, which is estimated by other analysts as a major price saver in the health care system. But the note from the group of economist could give a needed boost to those conservative Democrats who are already skittish about the costs and size of congressional reform efforts.

As the economists write: "we believe that it is important to enact health reform, and it is essential that health reform include these four features that will lower health care costs and help reduce deficits over the long term. Reform legislation that embodies these four elements can go a long way toward delivering better health care, and better value, to Americans."

The list of signatories is below:

Dr. Henry Aaron, The Brookings Institution
Dr. Kenneth Arrow, Stanford University, Nobel Laureate in Economics
Dr. Alan Auerbach, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Katherine Baicker, Harvard University
Dr. Alan Blinder, Princeton University
Dr. David Cutler, Harvard University
Dr. Angus Deaton, Princeton University
Dr. J. Bradford DeLong, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Peter Diamond, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Victor Fuchs, Stanford University
Dr. Alan Garber, Stanford University
Dr. Jonathan Gruber, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Mark McClellan, The Brookings Institution
Dr. Daniel McFadden, University of California, Berkeley, Nobel Laureate in Economics
Dr. David Meltzer, University of Chicago
Dr. Joseph Newhouse, Harvard University
Dr. Uwe Reinhardt, Princeton University
Dr. Robert Reischauer, The Urban Institute
Dr. Alice Rivlin, The Brookings Institution
Dr. Meredith Rosenthal, Harvard University
Dr. John Shoven, Stanford University
Dr. Jonathan Skinner, Dartmouth College
Dr. Laura D'Andrea Tyson, University of California, Berkeley