By Lisa M. Suennen of Psilos GroupNEW YORK ( TheStreet) --Washington has spoken. National health insurance is now a reality, adding 32 million additional Americans to the health care system and putting the U.S. on par with other developed nations in requiring health care for most citizens. But will it actually work to provide effective health care across our population without bankrupting the nation? Or have we won the battle but set ourselves up to lose the war? Many critics say we simply can't afford such an expensive health care reform program, and they may be right. The new law -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- focuses primarily on health care access and insurance reforms. It does virtually nothing to address the underlying costs and structural issues that have pushed the health care inflation rate to 2 ½ times the overall inflation rate. Adding 32 million insured people will place additional stress on a health care system that was already on pace to grow from about 16% of GDP in 2009 to more than 19.5%, or roughly $4.5 trillion annually, by 2017. Our health care economy is bursting at the seams and putting pressure on the overall economy, limiting our global competitiveness. The current health care system, hamstrung by a 30% rate of waste and errors, simply isn't sustainable. The U.S. must find ways to reduce the cost trajectory of health care. Health care rationing, the inevitable upshot if the issue is not addressed, isn't a concept our nation will embrace. Americans won't accept a financial model intentionally designed to let some people die while others live. The answer to this challenge is better care, not more care. As health reform moves from policy to practice, it's critical that health care and supportive industries step up to the plate to finally embrace the widespread use of information technology and other key productivity measures that improve quality and that have transformed almost every other American industry. Here are seven specific suggestions to bring about the change needed:
Health care has become the biggest drag on America's prosperity. The U.S. spends a greater percentage of its GDP on health care than any other country by factor of nearly two, yet it ranks only 25th in global life expectancy. The good news is that our nation has long been a leading light in the quest for innovation, and the venture industry has been a primary source of fuel for that innovation. That's why the venture industry has a major role to play in responding to our current economic challenge. The passage of landmark health care legislation creates significant impetus to develop and market sound ideas and technologies to improve the health of our health care system. I'm optimistic this scenario will evolve and that our country will ultimately be reinvigorated through industrial innovation. Lisa M. Suennen is a co-founder and managing member of Psilos Group, a health care-focused venture capital firm with over $577 million under management. Ms Suennen has headed Psilos' West Coast office in Corte Madera since the firm's founding in 1998 and focuses on the medical device, health care information technology and health care services sectors. She serves as a board director of several Psilos portfolio companies, including AngioScore, Inc. (chairman), PatientSafe Solutions, OmniGuide and VeraLight, Inc. (chairman).