Details emerge on White House health reform plans

 3 p.m. update — HHS budget summary released today.  

Lots of advance reporting in today’s papers on health care proposals in the pending White House budget. (The Globe ran a version of The Washington Post story inside)

 Here’s a sample:


The cuts in health-care spending would affect managed-care companies, prescription-drug manufacturers and hospitals, according to a senior administration official. Lobbyists representing these industries reacted mildly Wednesday, emphasizing their interest in seeing health-care reform succeed — a sign of the momentum already built behind the effort.

 “We will be a constructive participant in efforts to reform all parts of Medicare,” said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobby group.

 The administration acknowledges $634 billion is not enough to pay the full cost of health-care reform that Mr. Obama and many congressional Democrats envision; the final price tag is estimated at more than $1 trillion over 10 years. The senior official who previewed the health plan Wednesday said the budget proposal is intended as a down payment and said the administration would work with Congress to find the rest.


The Washington Post

President Obama is proposing to begin a vast expansion of the U.S. health-care system by creating a $634 billion reserve fund over the next decade, launching an overhaul that most experts project will ultimately cost at least $1 trillion….

 We aim to get to universal coverage,” administration budget aide Keith Fontenot told health-care activists last night. Obama is “open to any ideas people want to put forward.

 He wants to work openly with the Congress in a very inclusive process.”

Virtually every major player in the health-care sector will find something to object to in Obama’s plan, an intentional decision made in the hope that “a little bit of pain” will be offset by the appeal of insuring millions more people, said one White House adviser.


The New York Times

To finance health care reform, administration officials suggested to senior aides in Congress on Wednesday that revenues could be raised by ending the policy of excluding the value of employer-provided health insurance from income taxes.

 But the officials emphasized that the administration was not advocating that option, which not only is anathema to some in organized labor and business but also conflicts with Mr. Obama’s position in last fall’s presidential campaign.

 The administration is proposing a number of other politically contentious ways of offsetting the costs of the health care initiative. Mr. Obama wants to require drug companies to give bigger discounts, or rebates, to Medicaid, the health program for low-income people.

The trade groups began to respond yesterday. Bottom line – everyone supports health reform as a concept. Expect fierce opposition to the details as reform becomes a reality.  



 American Hospital Association


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