President Obama indicated that he might give some ground on efforts to cut Medicare spending, but not where that ground might lie.
Obama talked a little about Medicare, including Medicare payment reform programs, Tuesday during his 2013 State of the Union address.
“The biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population,” Obama said. “Those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms — otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations. “
But the country must ask the “wealthiest and the most powerful,” including the “wealthiest seniors,” to do more to shoulder the burden of cutting the federal budget deficit if it is going to ask “senior citizens and working families” to shoulder part of the burden, Obama said.
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Promoting broad-based economic growth and reducing the deficit will require the a combination of spending cuts and increases in revenue, Obama said.
“On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission,” Obama said.
Officials at Medicare already are trying to encourage health care providers to be more efficient by changing reimbursement strategies.
In the future, Obama said, “we’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital; they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive.”
Obama then touched on Medicare and Social Security overhaul efforts.
“I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement,” Obama said. “Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep — but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.”
The White House suggested in a supporting document that the “sensible reforms” Obama would accept are the changes he already has proposed in connection with the fiscal cliff negotiations.
In December 2012, Obama said he was willing to reduce Medicare bills by “finding new ways to reduce the cost of health care.”