Transcript: Simpson-Bowles on entitlement reform

Transcript of excerpts from the Politico Playbook Breakfast with Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, on sequestration and deficit reduction. The event was held on Feb. 19, 2013 and moderated by Mike Allen, Politico’s White House correspondent.

Mike Allen:
Put aside what is doable. What is the most important change that needs to be made to entitlements?

Erskine Bowles:
What’s the most important thing we need to do is stabilize the debt and keep it on a downward path as a percentage of GDP.

Mike Allen:
But specifically what mechanical changes need to be made to entitlements?

Erskine Bowles:
There are a lot of things that need to be done to entitlements. I wouldn’t say just one thing, but we need to have more cost-sharing with appropriate protections for low-income beneficiaries. We need to have means-testing. We need to get serious about population aging. We need to have tort reform. We need to have savings from what we pay to the drug manufacturers, and we need to pay for quality rather than quantity. All of those are really important.

Alan Simpson:
And you’ve got to take care of the guy who could buy this building, gets heart operation for $100,000 or $200,000 and doesn’t even get a bill. I mean, this is serious business. And anybody believes that this health care system can work when you have these statistics to face – you’re going to take care of the pre-existing condition of a 3-year-old that will live to be 60 perhaps, one person in the United States weighs more than the other two. That is a statistics. You’ve got diabetes A and B…You’ve got people – 10,000 a day – turning 65. If we don’t pay attention to this aging issue, nothing will work.

You’ve got to do something with tort reform. I’m an old trial lawyer. My two sons are lawyers. They say, “Pop, what happened to you? Where have you gone now?”

You’ve got to do something with providers. You’ve got to do something with doctors. Let’s get serious. You can’t just keep doing a ‘Doc Fix’. The last time we did this, the doctors were in the law, and then we did it and then they said, “Oh my, you can’t do that.” So we did a ‘Doc Fix’ – that’ll cost us $220 billion over 10 years.

All these things have to be done. And this baby is on automatic pilot, and it’s extraordinary that people will say you can’t touch Medicare and you can’t touch Social Security.


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  1. Pingback: Transcript: Simpson-Bowles on controlling health care costs | What The Folly?!

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