Author: [none given]
It's too early to tell whether the controversial federal health overhaul package will help or hurt the Cleveland Clinic, but CEO Toby Cosgrove says the new law will increase health costs throughout the U.S.
While health reform will certainly spark changes that affect the Clinic, the law leaves too many unanswered questions to know whether its impact would be positive or negative for the health system, Cosgrove said in an interview with the South Florida Business Journal.
Because the overhaul was designed to help about 30 million Americans obtain health insurance, health costs will rise as the new influx of customers flood the system, Cosgrove said. "You can't increase the services and add 30 million people to the coverage without increasing costs," he told the SFBJ.
As for suggestions for improving the law, Cosgrove pointed to two areas: obesity and smoking. The government could mandate healthier foods, and "tax smoking out of existence," he suggested. The tobacco lobby and its Congressional allies would likely oppose such legislation.
Obesity is a bit of a sore subject for Cosgrove. He generated controversy last year when he said in a New York Times article that he'd stop hiring obese people if he could. He later apologized to the Clinic's staff for his "hurtful" comments.
In the SFBJ interview, Cosgrove urged other companies to follow the Clinic's lead in taking steps to create a healthier workplace. In recent years, Cleveland Clinic has stopped hiring smokers, stopped serving fried and fatty foods on its main campus and removed sugary drinks from its hospitals, he said.