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July 11, 1986

Is Cost Containment for Real?

Author Affiliations

From Conservation of Human Resources, Columbia University, New York.

JAMA. 1986;256(2):254-255. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380020116035

"ETHOS vs. Exigencies: Medicine's Dilemma" was the theme of the tenth Annual Symposium of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Illinois, held Oct 18, 1985, in Chicago. There were four participants in the opening session entitled "Managing the Cost of Care—The Key to Survival"; I was assigned the anchor role.

Representative Daniel Rostenkowski, the first presenter, argued in favor of his proposal that Congress impose a ceiling of $300 per month on tax-free health benefits, emphasizing that only 5% of all families would be adversely affected. In his view, this was a much more reasonable approach than that of the President, who recommended taxing the first $25 of any employer contribution, a plan that, the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee pointed out, "nobody in the Administration or out defends... as good politics or good health policy."1(p2)

C. McClain Haddow, acting administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration, next sang