As legislation to reform our energy use and health insurance winds its way through Congress, it’s worth pausing to ask if we should tweak the system before overhauling it?
To be sure, there’s no reason why an overhaul can’t include these reforms. And there’s no reason why an overhaul can’t be incremental. Yet as two recent articles point out, there’s no reason why we can’t carry out these reforms now.
1. Strengthen energy requirements in building codes. Today’s energy requirements in building codes remain weak across half the country, and at least seven states have virtually no rules. That means that in many places, particularly the nation’s heartland, almost every new home, store and factory that goes up locks the country into unnecessary energy use for years to come.
No new technology needs to be invented to make major gains in saving energy. Products already available permit the construction of homes at least 30 percent more efficient than the national average. With enough political will, a new law can be put in place anywhere with the stroke of a pen, and made even more potent if it is coupled with tough oversight, as in Austin, Texas.
2. Eliminate hospital-acquired infections. Scrupulous adherence to simple but profoundly important practices like hand-washing, proper preparation of surgical sites, and assiduous care and maintenance of central lines and urinary catheters would save tens of billions of dollars every year.