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Toxic Politics Hinder Debate on Healthcare Cost Drivers

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 13, 2013

Moses notes that the politicization of healthcare began in the mid-1960s with the advent of Medicare, decades before the Affordable Care Act. "It took 20 years, fully until the mid 1980s, for the full effect of Medicare to become clear," he says. "We expect the same now with the ACA. And in the meantime there is a great deal of political rancor and discussion long before the effects of this legislation are known and long before the effects of previous changes have been completely assimilated."

"We felt the reason for this study was that there needed to be in one place the facts and figures relative to the healthcare debate. Our motivation was that healthcare is a topic that has been deeply politicized over the past two or three decades by really all of the forces and all of the factors that are involved in healthcare. We felt strong as did JAMA that there needed to be a reasoned dispassionate conversation in the country based on real data, real information. That is the gap that we tried to fill."

With that in mind, Moses says he and his fellow researchers made sure that their study would take no positions on any political point. "In fact, among the six authors we've never discussed the politics," Moses says. "The remarkable thing about this process which has gone on now a number of months is that we have avoided politics. I suspect we each have very different views of the role of the federal government and all of the contentious issues that we confront. Our goal was to be decidedly non political but to be as objective as possible in putting together an array of publicly available information that can be used by anybody for any purpose."

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