June 13th, 2009
12:16 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama proposes more cost savings in health care

President Obama says new savings would come from 'commonsense changes.'
President Obama says new savings would come from 'commonsense changes.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Saturday he wants to make additional resources available for overhauling the nation's health care system by dramatically reducing current medical costs to the government.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama proposed $313 billion in cuts and new savings over the next decade. Some of the funds would come from from expected increases in efficiency, reductions in excessive hospital payments and drug cost savings from individuals enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, the White House said.

But he did not specify precisely what form much of those cuts might take, saying the new savings would "come from commonsense changes."

"For example – if more Americans are insured, we can cut payments that help hospitals treat patients without health insurance," he said.

"If the drug makers pay their fair share, we can cut government spending on prescription drugs. And if doctors have incentives to provide the best care instead of more care, we can help Americans avoid the unnecessary hospital stays, treatments, and tests that drive up costs."

The funds would be in addition to the $635 billion in spending cuts and tax funds Obama has already requested to help ease the transition to a new system that would cover uninsured Americans and do a better job of slowing the surge in medical costs.

Budget chief Peter Orszag told reporters Friday the combined total savings would cover the cost of the process, though outside experts have estimated a price tag that would likely exceed $1 trillion.

"We are making good on this promise to fully finance health care reform over the next decade," Orszag told reporters on a conference call, though he would not dismiss the prospect of additional future costs.

Orszag conceded there might be a need to generate "additional resources that are necessary, and we would work with the Congress to come up with them if they are, but we haven't seen [those costs]," he said. "The committees are still writing the legislation, and the precise cost involved has yet to be determined. What we wanted to do was put enough specificity on the table to get in the range."

The president's latest proposals, like his earlier cost-cutting suggestions, would still need to get a congressional seal of approval - a hurdle that may be tough to clear.

"These savings underscore the fact that securing quality, affordable health care for the American people is tied directly to insisting upon fiscal responsibility," said the president. "And these savings are rooted in the same principle that must guide our broader approach to reform: We will fix what's broken, while building upon what works.

"I know some question whether we can afford to act this year. But the unmistakable truth is that it would be irresponsible to not act."

The president's comments come amid a fresh administration push on health care. Obama held a town hall in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Thursday that focused on the issue.

On Monday, he will address the American Medical Association - a group that has long been skeptical of his health care agenda.


Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Art Carmen

    Big cost savings would be to reduce the doctor's visits for specialists. The unpatriotic AMA and the doctors won't go along because they can hide their exhorbitant fees now in the paperwork.

    $350 for hi , how are you feeling, let me schedule a few more tests and I'll see you again in 2 weeks

    June 13, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. Dawn in Pa

    We need better healthcare in this Country.... People who are do not have any medical insurance and they are truely sick, and cannot go to the doctors, somehow could eventually die... which is not right.... Someone out there should never condemn what President Obama is doing, we have some smart Lawmakers and they should however give their ideas, and if it is good ideas then maybe it could be a win win situation....

    Thanks and have a nice day....

    June 13, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. Gary

    $2 Trillion dollar deficit this year (including a $700Billion so-call stimulus plan that was not stimulus but rather pork). $1.5 Trillion deficit next year, $1 Trillion the following, $800 Billion the following for a grand total of $5.3 Trillion in new deficits over 4 years. Worst than Bush (including the wars) worse than any president in history.....

    Now he wants to add a $1 Trillion health plan? He wants the debt to increase by $6.3 Trillion over 4 years? That's not even including the future costs of GM, the guaranteed contracts of AIG, The medicare and social security shortfall!!!!

    President Obama will go down in history as being the most fiscally irresponsible president ever. Recession is part of the normal business cycle, If you look back we've had a recession every 6 to 9 years. You cannot borrow your way out of a recession. Especially one that was partially based on too much borrowing.

    We need change! We need a 3rd party that cares about fiscal responsibility. We need Obama, Pelosi and Reed out of office and more independent, fiscally responsible leaders in office. STOP THIS CRAZINESS!!!!

    June 13, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. Alan

    HaHa what to do think "additional resources" means?? More and higher taxes. Did you really think he was telling the truth when he said he was only going to raise taxes on the "rich". America has fell for this guy and it is really going to cost us.

    There is no such thing as FREE medical care. Can't you see that!!!!!

    He has already spent more than any other Pres in history and now he going to add another TRILLION or so with this fantasy.

    June 13, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. Concerned

    He is thin on details, because he does not know what he is talking about. Raising prices for healthcare for youngsters and lowering prices for the aged, is not the way to reform healthcare.In a capitalist economy one cannot have government controlled nationalized health care.

    THink about this a little bit more "Mr.PRESIDENT".

    June 13, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  6. Nader

    Obama's details have always been thin or misleading. So why is this issue any different? When will the majority of Americans figure it out?

    June 13, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. mhetz

    How about we slow down – let's get out of this recession and begin to add jobs and revenues before spending more money – what's the hurry – let's work through ideas and ensure choice and private solutions are options. If Government can't fix issues like, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Education – why do we really think it can fix healthcare?

    June 13, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  8. DaBird

    Since Obama is going to use McCain's plan for healthcare, could someone please tell me why my middle income family making under $100,000 a year is going to pay $1,800 in taxes for healthcare? What happened to "nobody making under $250,000 will see a tax increase"?

    June 13, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  9. not me

    Of course they are THIN, they don't have a CLUE about what they are doing.

    After all, "they are just words".

    June 13, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  10. JS007

    What Obama needs to explain to the country is that while costs for regular Americans (private citizens) will go down (reduced insurance costs) the cost to government will likely go up (even after savings coming from efficiency). When added together the costs to society should go down a great deal, but let's face it, taxes will have to go up.

    No country in the world (other than America) lives under the illusion that you can have government funded health care and insurance without higher taxes. One must remember however, the added tax burdern of a government plan is NOT going to be as high as the current private, profit-based insurance, so it should be done.

    June 13, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  11. Georgia

    Take a look a who else blogs on this issue. Pretty much every negative blog will come from someone in either the health insurance or pharmaceutical industries. The way that they have been gauging the American people is horrific! They have the largest stake to lose here – over-the-top profit mongering.

    The American people deserve Better! We don't deserve to have the insurance company make decisions of what medical procedures that they will pay for! 2/3 of the bankruptcies in this country are due to medical insurers NOT TAKING CARE ON AMERICANS!

    The American people DESERVE AN OPTION! It is the medical insurers that are socialist and UN-AMERICAN in denying good people what they deserve!

    June 13, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  12. katiec

    There are many ways health care costs can be drastically reduced:
    Eliminate the no bid dictate the republicans put into the prescription plan.
    Remove insurance companies from making medical decisions, give them serious competition with their charges for policies.
    Revamp drug companies drug prices to U.S. They are now spending more money on advertising than on research which they have always maintained they needed to charge us more to maintain their research. They are raping us.
    The hospitals seem to have unlimited spending. If one builds a two deck parking lot, another builds a three deck. Thier quests for monoply, duplication of equipment are costing us dearly.
    There is an overabundance of tests, physicals and prescriptions.
    Medical procedures are scheduled to be beyond 30 days, as you have to have every procedure redone after 30 days.
    There is so much waste, unfair policies, overabundance of charges by all and we are the victims.

    June 13, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  13. Bill

    Sounds like health care rationing to me

    June 13, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  14. Ryan Wing

    I hope he can do it. We need a better health care system that isn't so vested in profit.

    June 13, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  15. Ron

    President Obama is doing an excellent job. Brilliant man, brilliant statesman.

    June 13, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  16. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    How do they stack up versus "W's" plan? Oh, that's right, he didn't have a plan – per usual! That would have interfered with "the making wealthier of my friends companies," right?!

    June 13, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  17. katiec

    Typical CNN.
    For once give our president a break. Did you expect him to discuss every cost saving method?
    If you think that is needed than you need to also post the republicans "cost savings", if there are any.

    June 13, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  18. SkiDoc

    A disaster in the making. This guy wants a single-payer gov't system that will unravel the best health care system on the planet. Prediction: We will now get the 17th czar – the Care Czar. But eyes will just glaze over as all the "O" devotees swoon before their messiah on this train wreck.

    June 13, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. SK

    Does his pure lack of details on anything surprise anybody?

    June 13, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. Henry Miller

    More of Obama's smoke and mirrors. This guy will do anything and say anything to convince people his socialised medicine scheme will actually work and won't further bankrupt the country. Medicare and Medicaid. all by themselves, programs that cover only a small percentage of the population, already cost the country many billions of dollars–and Obama wants to, in effect, make these programs ten times bigger.

    We can't afford that.

    Just think of what's happened in recent history: Obama made a big deal of having cut a billion dollars from a budget. Sounds great, until you do the math–which Obama thinks you're too dumb to do–and realise that he was making a big deal about a savings of one-tenth of one percent of the total. When Obama talks about "cutting costs," he'll count it as keeping his promise if he can save ten cents out of every hundred dollars–a tenth of a percent.

    Basically, Obama is lying.

    June 13, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  21. T Mckinley

    It is the President's job to provide vision and direction, and it is Congress' job to write the legislation and work out the details.

    Our President understands this. He is doing HIS job. Now it is up to Congress to do THEIR job.

    June 13, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. ME

    That is how socialism work. The government tells you what they want done and force free enterprise to follow the directions or else.

    Now Obama will tell you whether you can have treatment. Where are the objective reporters who would ask him the tough questions?

    I came from government controlled health care and IT DOES NOT WORK. The government needs to provide sensible regulations of the insurance companies to make sure that patients are treated fairly based on their medical needs not for the government to be a giant insurance company that controls people's health and quality of life.

    June 13, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  23. Brian

    Aren't all this guys details thin.... Socialize medicine, check...

    June 13, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  24. Juggy

    Details are thin? No, I refuse to believe that. 313 billion in savings over ten years! Well if he keeps on his pace of 3.94T dollars a year for his budgets, that will leave us slightly in the hole. But I am almost positive that universal health care will pay for itself. Just raise taxes on those who have private insurance so we can pay for it. Or maybe he can raise the federal tax. I don't understand why people who never ran a business in their life feel like they can. He should do what he does best, organize a block party or festival in a park. At least with that he has some experience.

    June 13, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  25. Charlie in Maine

    If it is anything like everything else he has done it won't be "thin on details" by the time it is law and dramatically improving our lives.

    "On Monday, he will address the American Medical Association — a group that has long been skeptical of his health care agenda."

    Skeptical huh that is where he does his best work.

    June 13, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
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