Health care cost cuts could kick-start reform

May 11, 2009 By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and PHILIP ELLIOTT , Associated Press Writers
Former President Bill Clinton walks off stage after speaking about the Clinton Global Initiative University at Laurie Auditorium in San Antonio, Texas. on Friday, May 8, 2009. (AP Photo/Pool, Tom Reel)

(AP) -- When President Bill Clinton took on health care reform, industry leaders fought back, killing the White House proposal before it could gain any traction.

Now those industry leaders are trying to help President find a solution to the problem of uninsured Americans, offering $2 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years.

Hospitals, , drug makers and doctors planned to tell Obama on Monday they'll voluntarily slow their rate increases in coming years in a move that government economists say would create breathing room to help provide health insurance to an estimated 50 million Americans who now go without it.

Although the offer from the industry groups doesn't resolve thorny details of a new system, it does offer the prospect of freeing a large chunk of money to help pay for coverage. And it puts the private-sector groups in a good position to influence the bill Congress is writing.

Six major groups plan to deliver a letter to Obama and pledge to cut the growth rate for health care by 1.5 percentage points each year, senior administration officials said Sunday. They spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to sketch the offer before full details are revealed at a White House event scheduled for Monday.

The industry groups are trying to get on the administration bandwagon for expanded coverage now in the hope they can steer Congress away from legislation that would restrict their profitability in future years.

Insurers, for example, want to avoid the creation of a government health plan that would directly compete with them to enroll middle-class workers and their families. Drug makers worry that in the future, new medications might have to pass a cost-benefit test before they can win approval. And hospitals and doctors are concerned the government could dictate what they get paid to care for any patient, not only the elderly and the poor.

Obama has courted industry and provider groups, inviting their representatives to the . There's a sense among some of the groups that now may be the best time to act before public opinion, fueled by anger over costs, turns against them.

It's unclear whether the proposed savings will prove decisive in pushing a health care overhaul through Congress. There's no detail on how the savings pledge would be enforced. And, critically, the promised savings in private health care costs would accrue to society as a whole, not just the federal government. That's a crucial distinction because specific federal savings are needed to help pay for the cost of expanding coverage.

Costs have emerged as the most serious obstacle to Obama's plan. The estimated federal costs range from $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years, and so far Obama has only spelled out how to get about half of that.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Increased morbidity, mortality in food system industries

Related Stories

Health groups offer $2 trillion in cost savings

May 11, 2009

(AP) -- President Barack Obama's plan to provide medical insurance for all Americans took a big step toward becoming reality Sunday after leaders of the health care industry offered $2 trillion in spending ...

White House seeks health plan compromise

Apr 15, 2009

Offering the option of government coverage to workers and their families has become one of the most contentious issues in the debate about overhauling health care to cover the uninsured and curb costs. Obama has proposed ...

Health care overhaul cost may reach $1.5 trillion

Mar 18, 2009

(AP) -- Your lungs may work just fine, but the estimated price for universal health care could take your breath away. Health policy experts say guaranteeing coverage for all Americans may cost about $1.5 ...

Sources: Senators weigh 3 government health plans

May 09, 2009

(AP) -- Senators are considering three different designs for a new government health insurance plan that middle-income Americans could buy into for the first time, congressional officials said Friday. Officials ...

Recommended for you

Increased morbidity, mortality in food system industries

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Occupational morbidity and mortality are elevated across food system industries compared with nonfood system industries, according to a study published online May 12 in the Journal of Occupational an ...

Three issues to consider before selecting EHR

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Work flow, features and functionality, and technical infrastructure should all be considered in advance of selecting an electronic heath record (EHR) system, according to an article published ...

Research letter: Indoor tanning rates drop among US adults

5 hours ago

Indoor tanning rates dropped among adults from 5.5 percent in 2010 to 4.2 percent in 2013, although an estimated 7.8 million women and 1.9 million men still engage in the practice, which has been linked to increased cancer ...

Stunting remains a challenge in South Africa

6 hours ago

Stunting remains stubbornly persistent in South Africa, despite economic growth, political and social transitions, and national nutritional programmes, says a Wits-led research team.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.