Orszag: Current Health Bills Only A First Step To Controlling Health Costs
Reuters: "Congressional efforts to revamp the U.S. healthcare system are not enough to stem soaring health costs or close the nation's budget gap, a top Obama administration official said on Wednesday." White House budget director Peter Orszag did not offer specific ideas or changes President Obama might include in his next budget proposal. He told reporters this morning at a National Press Club briefing that "[f]iscally responsible health reform is necessary but not sufficient to address our immediate-term deficit and long-term deficit problem, and there is more that will be necessary. ... We'll be talking more about that next year." Reuters reported Orszag said that although the Senate bill "still faces potential changes, it will put a new healthcare 'infrastructure' in place aimed at lowering costs over time" (Heavey, 12/2).
New York Times' Prescriptions Blog: "The White House is touting an independent commission that would make money-saving changes to Medicare as a key pillar of President Obama's health care plan. But ... Orszag hinted on Wednesday that the commission, as proposed in the Senate health bill, would not be tough enough." Orszag said, "The key thing at this point is the Medicare commission exists. ... There are things as we move forward that will need to be tweaked or modified, and there is significant discussion ongoing about whether the Medicare commission could be modified" (Stolberg, 12/2).
Orszag also said that even if Congress passes health care overhaul legislation this year, it "will be years to decades" to make the American health system more efficient, the Associated Press writes. "He said improving the quality of health care 'is more like a lifelong nutrition or diet, not studying for an exam,' but he added that continuous progress is a crucial goal."
According to Orszag, "the nation must move away from its long tradition of fee-for-service health care. ... Orszag said limits on medical malpractice awards - which many Republicans favor, but are not in the bills - would do little to reduce health care costs. He also rejected claims that the proposed Senate bill would not do enough to encourage people to buy health insurance before becoming seriously ill" (Babington, 12/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.