Today the members of the House Commerce Committee will make their most important anti-inflation decision of this congressional session—whether to vote for a bill which will contain skyrocketing hospital costs. I urge the members of the committee to approve that bill and to work for congressional passage this year.
I proposed cost containment legislation last year to restrain rising hospital costs. These costs have been growing by about 17 percent a year—far faster than the rate of expansion in the economy as a whole.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost containment legislation now pending before the Commerce Committee will save at least $30 billion in hospital expenditures over the next 5 years. It will reduce Federal expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid by over $8 billion during this period.
Approval of this bill is essential for restraining health care costs. If the legislation I proposed last year had taken effect in October of 1977, our country would already have saved $2 billion in hospital costs by now. A vote against the bill is a vote against putting the brakes on runaway health inflation. A vote for this bill is a vote against inflation.
Powerful special interests will oppose any bill to fight inflation. This is certainly true for hospital cost containment, with intense lobbying against this needed legislation continuing up to the last minute. I am confident, however, that the members of the Commerce Committee will overcome these pressures and will take this crucial step to help all Americans fight skyrocketing hospital costs and rising inflation.