President Barack Obama has set an ambitious deadline of October to achieve comprehensive healthcare reform, traveling to-and-fro across the nation to warn civilians and lawmakers alike that the current healthcare system could bankrupt the nation.
During a speech to the American Medical Association (AMA) in Chicago June 15, Obama told physicians that “healthcare reform is the single most important thing we can do for America’s long-term fiscal health. That is a fact.” Indeed, during a June 11 town hall meeting on healthcare, Obama said that the single biggest problem the U.S. has “in terms of the debt and deficit is healthcare–it’s Medicare and Medicaid.” Medicare and Medicaid costs, he said, are going up “much, much faster than inflation.” Medicare and Medicaid “are the real nightmare scenarios.”
But reforming the healthcare system won’t come cheap. The Administration proposes to pay for the full cost of health reform–which is estimated at $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years–by reducing Medicare and Medicaid spending and raising revenue. Published reports say that Obama wants to cut federal payments to hospitals by about $200 billion and cut $313 billion from Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years. He also is proposing a $635 billion “down payment” in tax increases and spending cuts in the healthcare system.
Obama’s plan would offer a public health insurance option, a health insurance exchange, would allow individuals to keep their current coverage, and promote best practices to improve health quality. Obama is advocating preventative and disease management through healthy living as well as the continued expansion of electronic health records. As Obama stated during his speech to the AMA “…No matter how we reform healthcare, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”