Obama Calls For Modest Health Reforms, Spends More Time Ruling Them Out

386emodest mouse credit whitehouse Obama Calls For Modest Health Reforms, Spends More Time Ruling Them Out

Credit: Whitehouse.govIn last night’s State of the Union address,
President Obama noted again that “the biggest driver of our
long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging
population” and said that “those of us who care deeply about
programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest
reforms.”Keeping this in mind, it’s worth noting that in recent
days, the White House has been busy rejecting modest reforms:
Earlier this month, White House economic adviser Gene Sperling

declared flatly that “Medicaid savings, Medicaid cuts, for this
administration, are not on the table.” Not big cuts, not modest
ones, and not even cuts it had already said it might accept.
Sperling noted that his statement specifically rules out Medicaid
savings and cuts that the administration had previously indicated
it would consider. And earlier this week, Obama rejected another idea for
reducing the cost of Medicare that he’d previously said he would
consider:
raising Medicare’s eligibility age. Tonight’s State of the Union also contained the following
bit about the health and economic promise of drug
development:
Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to
unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s; developing drugs to regenerate
damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries ten times
more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating
investments in science and innovation.
Yet Obama has repeatedly
proposed changing the way Medicare pays for prescription drugs
for seniors who are also eligible for Medicaid. And he made
reference to changing the way the government pays for drugs in the
speech, saying: “We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription
drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest
seniors.” Putting aside the question of whether those cuts are
a good idea, they would almost certainly have a dampening effect on
pharmaceutical research and development spending. He also said he would “bring down costs by changing the
way our government pays for Medicare,” but that’s proven tricky as
well. The Obama administration delayed cuts to Medicare
Advantage that it
stumped for, and the Government Accountability Office says that
its justification for doing so is bunk. All of which is to say that any kind of changes to
Medicare or Medicaid are going to be hard—and that Obama doesn’t
seem too keen on making even the sort of modest reforms he says are
necessary. 

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Obama Calls For Modest Health Reforms, Spends More Time Ruling Them Out

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