Getting the U.S. health finance and retirement systems in order will be important to any efforts to overhaul the economy, according to President Obama.
“To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must … address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security,” Obama said tonight during a speech delivered at a joint session of Congress. “Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come. And we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security.”
Obama identified health care, education and energy as three areas in which the United States must invest even as it is struggling to tame the budget deficit.
Congress already has passed a bill that will expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and a second bill, H.R. 1, that includes a provision that will pay 65% of the health benefits continuation costs for many laid-off workers, Obama said.
“Businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans” will come together next week to begin work on developing broader health care system reforms, Obama said.
“Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year,” Obama said.
While describing possible strategies for cutting the budget deficit, Obama also referred briefly to Medicare.