Session Provides Two Perspectives on Healthcare Reform Debate


Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Chris Jennings discussed the state of health care reform.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Chris Jennings,

former White House health policy

advisor and co-director of the Bipartisan

Policy Center’s “Leaders’ Project on the State

of American Health Care,” brought their perspectives

on the state of health care reform to a

standing-room-only session Sunday afternoon.

Ryan addressed what he sees as the major flaws in the current reconciliation bill expected to come up for a vote as early as next week in Congress. “The current bill federalizes the health care system,” he said. He expressed concerns that passage would lead to micromanagement or even rationing of care and increase costs by creating a new, open-ended entitlement program on top of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Why would the next generation of physicians choose to spend eight to 10 years in school and accrue $300,000 in student loans to become a “de facto employee of the federal government,” he questioned.

According to Ryan, there are alternatives. He cited his “Roadmap for America’s Future” bill (H.R. 6110) that would attack costs, end “tax discrimination” and enact “full-throttle” medical liability reform.

“We believe the health care system should reward innovation and grow the patient/doctor relationship,” he said. He called for insurance reforms that align incentives for insurers with those of patients. He also advocated for medical specialty societies, like the American College of Cardiology, to be allowed to design guidelines and performance measures.


countered Ryan’s concerns about the current health care legislation before Congress by saying that all too often critics fight health care reform out of fear. “No one is talking about a government takeover,” he said. “What is scary is the future without reform.”


cautioned that the current system is unsustainable and that the biggest mistake would be not to pass anything. For example, he noted that the United States is currently spending more than $2 trillion in health care services that do not improve outcomes. He questioned Ryan’s assertions that the current bill was not bipartisan. “We must do better. We can do better,” said Jennings. “What we have is a bipartisan bill that is not supported by Republicans.”


and Ryan did agree that the ACC continues to be a key player in the health reform debate. Both noted the College’s leadership in guidelines and registry development. “I want to thank the ACC for walking the walk,” said Jennings. “The ACC is at the vortex of the debate.”

For more information on ACC’s health reform efforts, visit or ACC Central, Booth 2244.

Source: American College of Cardiology’s

CardioSource News.

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