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. Bob From PA

    On the health care question.
    What I don't understand is that AllState Insurance Company decided to open up it's own body shop chain called Sterling Auto Body. So, if the insurance industry can get into related businesses, thereby forcing the independent shops out of business, why can't the hospitals get into the insurance business and receive premium payments directly?
    I have a hospital close by that is Riddle Memorial Hospital. Why can't they join up with other specialized institutions, such as Wills Eye Hospital, and smaller independent specialty practices, and become part of the "Riddle Group". That way when you make premium payments directly, anything that goes wrong with you, the hospital takes care of it.
    As I understand it, with our existing system, insurance "agencies" that write the policies take 30% of the premiums off of the top. Then the remaining 70% has to cover the insurance companies expenses, buildings, corporate jets, and large profits, before even one dime goes toward healing the sick.
    So.... my vote is for a new thing called "Hospitalized Insurance Groups" If people want to keep their existing insurance, fine, but if they want to buy a hospitalized plan, then they can shop that too. I have a good idea, why doesn't this country develop a free enterprise system??? Your thoughts are appreciated. Barack are you listening?

    June 13, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  2. D Philpot

    In all of the talk about pay as you go for healthcare, I do not recall hearing
    anything about members of congress paying also. I believe that when they need treatment, they are taken to Walter Reed hospital, a military
    establishment. Do they get billed ? Most of these members are worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Surely they can cough up (no pun intended) just like the little guy. These politicians make a career
    out of office for the perks. Its time they considered laws and included themselves in the mix.

    June 13, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  3. What You Talkin Bout Willis?

    Let Obama have whatever he wants. Don't ask questions, don't resist. Listen to his words but ignore his actions. No one in Washington had commonsense before he arrived. He's the first in 230+ years.

    June 13, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  4. chubby

    When the government gets involved in our health care, they will drive out private insurance because no one can compete with the governments deep pockets. Once the private insurance companies have broken up, we will be under obama care which is what the Europeans are getting away from because it is to expensive and people cannot get life saving health care once they are over a certain age and many die in pain because the government will not allow the money to be spent on older people. Why do you think European and people from Canada come to the US for their health care. obamas plan is to have everyone on his health plan that way he and his can control everything from cars to banks to your own health.

    June 13, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Champly

    Mr. Obama is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Shame on him and shame on you Obamots who worship at his feet.

    June 13, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. GT

    You can't give people more access and lower costs. It's impossible. If you give people more access then you either have to take care away from people who currently have coverage or you have to increase cost. We need to stop lying to the voters.

    We also need to STOP PROMISING FREE STUFF TO PEOPLE!!!!

    EVERYONE in this country should WORK.
    EVERYONE in this country should pay for their own care. People do NOT need cable TV, they do NOT need the latest cell phone, they do NOT need expensive clothes or cars. They NEED to pay for their own healthcare.

    I work 60 hours per week. If anyone is working 60 hours per week and living modestly and still cannot afford healthcare then I would GLADLY allow the government to help them. But I'm sick of lazy people smoking and drinking and not working thinking that when they get sick or get cancer taxpayers should pay for it. We do NOT want to SOCIALIZE medicine (or banks or car companies for that matter!)!!!

    June 13, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. illinoistom

    Would you buy a house without caring what it cost or how you would pay for it? Oh wait, that is what caused the economy to crater. Furthermore, should we rush this through Congress before the public understands the long term effect.... oh wait, that is what gave us TARP and the "stimulus" debacles. We can improve on what is the greatest healthcare system in the world without turning it into another bloated entitlement program.

    June 13, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  8. Lionhunter

    "If the drug makers pay their fair share..." give me a break, you socialist

    June 13, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  9. Willy Brown

    Pass the Fair Tax Bill HR25 and you'll have more than enough money to fund your socialist programs.

    June 13, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  10. Proud DHS radical

    Obama is pretty thin on a lot of issues but do you really want him cutting back on medicare treatment for the elderly? And covering any and all illegals under his heath plan?

    June 13, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  11. Arnold Bank

    How does the president propose to controldecrease health care costs while covering 46 million previously uninsured patients as well as all the patients who are covered now.at what everyone agrees is exhorbitant expense. One word: RATIONING. When ever you see the words "efficiency" or *cost cutting" or any other industry or government buzz words think RATIONING of services and facilities. Think waiting months for treatment that is needed now, Furthermore, allowing private health insurance companies to dominate the health care payment system, the Republican option, is counterproductive, Private insurers' first priority is profitability. Their second priority is executive compensation. Their last priority is the actual health care of their customers.

    June 13, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. Lynn

    It will help if they ban against the government negotiating prescription drugs was lifted. Right now they cannot negotiate the amount Medicaid or Medicare pays for drugs.

    The status quo of course makes the rich and greedy pharmaceutical companies happy, but it does nothing to help Americans who are dependent on prescription medications to get them through their day.

    At least someone is now trying to formulate a plan to help Americans instead of just enjoying their personal "for life" benefits paid for by taxpayers.

    June 13, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  13. Proud DHS radical

    Instead of buying off nations with hundreds of billions of our tax dollars to take in a handful of terrorists or, giving money away to African despots, maybe we ought to apply that money toward funding Obama's healthcare plans.

    June 13, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  14. Thin is in?

    Just like his lies about creating or saving 150,000 jobs, no actual way of proving or disproving it, but he gets a way with it.

    Someone actually had the "audacity" to ask Biden the other day how that figure comes about and he said it was "above his paygrade", good job compliant sheep, this idiot is next in line to the presidency?

    He doesn't even know the difference between a auto tunnel from a train tunnel.

    Why can't anyone ask Obama questions about the lies, errr, figures, that he puts out over and over, is it against protocol to question this man who Newsweek refers to as "god"?

    Obviously the media selected him, elected him and now they have successfully protected him

    June 13, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. republicans hate america

    The Rush Limbaugh Party has a solution dont exercise to risk injury stay home, be lazy, get fat like him and take pain pills that way you wont take up doctors time fixing your broken bone from running or biking.

    June 13, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  16. Michele

    Isn't it funny how Bush could spend and spend and spend on the war in Iraq and no one ever said "Enough" to him? He was just an expert at manipulating the American psyche and faking concern for our troops and our safety to get the billions into the pockets of his contractor buddies.
    Now we have President who cares about OUR health and safety, and all we will hear from the right is that we can't afford it because we might have to-gasp!-pay for it through tax increases! Yes indeed, we might be asked to support a program for the good of America, all of America, with tax dollars and some sacrifice. I'd much rather support that than Bush's mindless wars, paid for with promises and Chinese loans that really have mortgaged our childrens' future earnings.

    June 13, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. Tater

    Way to go prez! Sounds like a smart move. I am sure enough bloat and waste in government can be found to more than pay for national health care without big taxation. The republicans are still going to block it no matter what. You may have to use reconciliation if the lame ass senate is unwilling to do it's job!

    June 13, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. Lou in Illinois

    If we are going to "fix what's broken" and "build upon what works" then we need to fix existing government-run healthcare (Medicare) before adding any new programs. Medicare currently pays providers, doctors and hospitals, only about 75% of what it actually costs to deliver their services. That's why healthcare costs are so high. The rest of us are indirectly subsidizing government-run healthcare every day to keep the whole system from collapsing. The notion that the government is going to "fix" our healthcare system with more government-run insurance is absurd and will only bankrupt the country.

    June 13, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. Right Leaning Independent

    What's new? He is thin on specifics for everything. He always speaks in general terms...

    June 13, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  20. susie

    Old people will not be provided health care under Obama's plan.

    June 13, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  21. lynn in NM

    This can't be! Obama has had a "plan" to save the world for the past 4 years. Someone has something wrong here.

    June 13, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. David Evan

    What the President is proposing sound very clear to me. Now is the time to act.

    June 13, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. Squigman

    CNN, has now, and always will have a pro-republican slant to all of it's reporting. After all, where would the country be if CNN, didn't try to influence all it perveys.

    June 13, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. bsmith171

    'thin on details' because if people find out the details they will rebel.
    87% of citizens have some form of healthcare. we are talking about changing the entire system to accomodate 13%.

    this will result in the 87% paying taxes on their benefits. (reason fro thin details).

    next will come rationing as we try to accomodate more people with the same number of doctors and hospitals.

    obama's plan, put the entire country on MEDICAID.

    if you like gov't programs this is for you.

    June 13, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  25. theo monroe

    Give him some time to make the details up.

    June 13, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
1 2 3 4