The Senate health care plan ensures universal coverage, but when it comes to controlling costs, all it offers is…pilot programs. Sounds pretty flimsy, right? “Two thousand seventy-four pages and trillions of dollars later, this bill doesn’t even meet the basic goal,” complained Mitch McConnell, “to lower costs.” But pilot programs might just be the solution, writes Atul Gawande of the New Yorker. After all, they worked for runaway food prices in the 1900s.
Back then, food prices were choking consumers, and farmers refused to innovate. So the government threw a bunch of pilot programs at them, asking individual farms to try new things. When they worked, they caught on, and American agriculture became the envy of the world. Now, we’re trying that with health care. “Pick up the Senate health-care bill—yes, all 2,074 pages—and leaf through it,” writes Gawande, himself a practicing doctor. It’s almost half test programs. “The bill is a hodgepodge. And it should be.”