A Health Care Nation

health care nation2013 will be the year that America becomes “The Health Care Nation”, according to a recent article in Fortune magazine. Reactions to the new health care law will make health care the center of national attention once again, with the majority of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s provisions scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2014. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predict that by 2020: health care spending will have reached 20% of GDP (with 50% of that amount provided by the government), growth in national health care expenditures will outpace GDP growth by 1.1% on average, and Medicaid expenditures will grow 20% in 2014 alone due to increased coverage. Meanwhile, a recent Bank of America poll of leading CFOs reports that 60% cite health care cost as a key economic concern for the nation and 58% cite health care cost as a key economic concern for their company. The only greater concerns are in regard to U.S. government effectiveness and the budget deficit, both of which are strongly affected by health care costs.

Economists disagree over whether or not rising health care costs harm American businesses’ competitiveness in global markets, a crucial question due to the fact that the US spends far more on health care than any other country. The Council on Foreign Relations recently released an “Expert Roundup” on this topic. Robert Graboyes of the National Federation of Independent Business took the position that new health care legislation is hurting American competitiveness because it creates an uncertain financial planning environment and Neeraj Sood of the University of Southern California claimed that “rising healthcare costs have significantly reduced employment and output growth among U.S. businesses”.  Jennifer Baron of Harvard University insists that the indirect costs of poor employee health, such as low productivity, are twice the cost of benefit spending and so the emphasis should be placed on improving wellness rather than controlling spending on insurance plans.

Rapidly rising health care costs have been shown to negatively impact both businesses and workers. It is a common view among economists that increases in health care costs are offset by lower wages in the market-based system of employer-provided health care. A study by the RAND Corporation claims that since wages are generally sticky and do not react quickly to market value changes, rising health care costs can have negative impacts on businesses’ cost competitiveness, employment levels, revenues, and value added. This effect is exacerbated in industries that offer coverage to most of their employees, such as the automobile industry, and have less of an effect on industries that do not, such as retail. To make matters worse, a study by the Institute of Medicine posits that up to 30% of national health care expenditures are wasteful due to excessive cost, unnecessary treatment, and missed prevention opportunities.

Obviously, health care is a rising concern for the U.S. government, American businesses, and individual Americans. The issue will take years if not decades to be corrected, but a sustainable trajectory for health care costs must be found to ensure U.S. economic stability. It will be up to lawmakers to decide whether a focus on costs, value, or employee wellness is most appropriate (or most likely some combination of these factors). No matter what decisions are made, they are sure to affect every American in this “Health Care Nation”.

Posted by: Ben Copper

Sources: Fortune, Bank of America, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Council on Foreign                          Relations, The Economist, RAND Corporation, Health Affair, Institute of Medicine

Photo Credit: Hospital Bed, courtesy of flickr user: APM Alex


Public-Private Partnerships in Space sees the return of the First Commercial Space Cargo Flight

The newest competitive marketplace is out of this world, literally. Space is the newest investment frontier for companies following the retirement of NASA’s spaceshuttle fleet. Space exploration now relies on a private-public partnership between the Space Administration and companies such as California’s Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp.

The most recent partnership is the SpaceX Dragon capsule which returned from its “historic mission” to the International Space Station on Sunday October 28th. Its return is marked as “mission accomplished” for all parties as Dragon successfully became the first commercial cargo flight in space. The capsule, unmanned for the duration of its trip, is also the first robotic spacecraft ever to return cargo to Earth.

Launched on October 7th by SpaceX in California, the capsule carried 882 pounds of supplies including scientific equipment, crew supplies such as clothes and fresh apples, and hardware to the station. Dragon returned safely with cargo and test samples from the astronauts manning the space station, landing in the ocean off of the Southern California coast. The success of this mission bodes well for the 11 commercial flights scheduled to resupply the station, the next of which departs in January. These flights comprise a $1.6 billion contract between SpaceX and NASA.

The future is full of continued business relations between NASA and American companies. Alongside Space X, Orbital Sciences Corp is under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to launch 8 rocket and spacecraft missions with the first launching before the new year. Additionally, a current NASA contract to launch manned orbital flights is considering bids from companies Sierra Nevada and Boeing. These partnerships have led to meaningful experimentation and the products of multilateral research reflect “American ingenuity” states SpaceX. Certainly, space exploration has entered a new age and with the success of Dragon, the future appears bright for NASA and their private partners.

Posted by: Sophia Higgins

Sources: SpaceX, Space.com, CNN, Voxxi

Photo Credit: Dragon Splashes Down @ photostream courtesy of Flickr user NASA Goddard Photo and Video

You are Invited – Doing Business in a More Transparent World: A Discussion of the 2012 World Bank Report

The Program on America and the Global Economy

invites you to a panel discussion:


A Discussion of the 2012 World Bank Report


Augusto Lopez-Claros

Director, Global Indicators and Analysis, World Bank-IFC


Peter Bakvis, Director, Washington Office of the International Trade Union Confederation; Johnny Moloto, Deputy Chief of Mission, South African Embassy; Frank Vargo, Vice President of International Economic Affairs, National Association of Manufacturers

Moderated by: John Sewell, Senior Scholar, Wilson Center

Every year since 2002, the World Bank’s Doing Business Project has released a report ranking the world’s economies. This highly influential report is used by policy makers and business leaders to create economic regulations and strategies in countries around the globe. What are the benefits and drawbacks to the World Bank’s approach? How does the report support innovation and entrepreneurship? What type of guidance is given to developing and emerging economies? What are the short- and long-term implications of the report’s recommendations? Join a panel of business, labor, and economic experts on December 6 for a careful and critical examination of this year’s report, Doing Business in a More Transparent World.  The report is available online at www.doingbusiness.org

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 – 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Sixth Floor Board Room, Woodrow Wilson Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.

Please respond with acceptances only to PAGE@wilsoncenter.org.

Posted by: PAGE Staff

Partnering with Business: The Changing Role of Business in Education

The following is an event summary from a program held by the  Program on America and the Global Economy at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

On March 2, a panel of Albert Einstein Distinguished Fellows focused on The Changing Role of Business in Education. Educators from across the nation, the Fellows serve in offices on Capitol Hill and in several federal departments.  They discussed ways that business partnerships are enabling new and innovative educational practices in their school districts.  Kent Hughes, director of the Program on America and the Global Economy, moderated the panel.

Hughes introduced the topic by referring to previous efforts at partnerships between business and education, such as the Business Roundtable’s assignment of two CEO’s to each governor in the wake of the education summit called by President George H.W. Bush.  Hughes commented that “being involved in education is one of the best forms of enlightened self-interest because today’s students are tomorrow’s engineers, the next generation of technical workers, and the next generation of informed citizens.”

The first panelist to speak was Brenda Gardunia, who has twenty years of experience teaching high school math in Idaho.  She described ways in which a partnership with a technical center in her area has allowed students to focus more on transitioning to a career, including through competitive paid internships.  “We must realize that not all students are going to go to an academic college,” she said.  According to Gardunia, partnerships between schools and businesses have advantages for both sides, with students gaining real world experience and businesses gaining a deeper pool of potential employees.  Gardunia also argued that these partnerships have strengthened community ties and have inherent public relations advantages.  Most importantly, through the teaching of these “21st Century Skills,” Gardunia argued that students emerge from school better prepared to be a productive member of our global knowledge economy. Read more of this post

You are Invited – Partnering with Business: The Changing Role of Business in Education

Partnering with Business: The Changing Role of Business in Education

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows offer a unique perspective on U.S. schools and educational policymaking; they have been chosen by the Department of Energy to spend a fellowship year in congressional or executive offices based on their excellence in teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects in K-12 schools.

The Fellows will discuss the role that businesses play in the classroom as the United States faces the challenge of ensuring that students are college and career-ready.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

5th Floor Conference Room

Woodrow Wilson Center

RSVP acceptances to page@wilsoncenter.org

Posted by: PAGE Staff