CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While the Affordable Care Act will cost $1 trillion over a decade, the sweeping health-care legislation will reduce national debt over the long term, according to a local physician and state senator.
"I think it's going to improve the cost and quality of health care in the country over time," said state Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha.
Foster said recent reports indicate the health-care reform act will reduce the national debt by about $210 billion over 10 years.
Without reform, there will be no rapid movement toward delivery and payment reform, both of which are necessary measures, Foster said.
"We're paid for the frequency of our care and the intensity of our care, not how well people do," Foster said of physicians. "We're very good at taking people who are very sick and getting them well. We don't do a good job at keeping them from getting sick because it doesn't pay well."
Foster said health-care costs need to be addressed, even if the ACA or parts of it are struck down. Those costs will be more readily addressed if the law stands, he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments over the constitutionality of the legislation. A decision is expected in June.
Foster's comments came following a panel discussion about the health-care reform act Monday at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Charleston. The discussion, "The Affordable Healthcare Act: Obama Care or Obama Cares?" brought together three different perspectives on health-care reform: consumer, provider and taxpayer.
Along with Foster, the other panelists were Ted Cheatham, director of the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency, and Chris Colenda, chancellor for health sciences at West Virginia University.