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Akron Univ. School of Law

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cutting Health Care Growth

The New York Times reports on the health industry and its willingness to slow health care spending.  Robert Pear reports,

Doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies will join President Obama on Monday in announcing their commitment to a sharp reduction in the growth of national health spending, White House officials said Sunday.  The officials said the plan could save $2,500 a year for a family of four in the fifth year and a total of $2 trillion for the nation over 10 years. That could make it less expensive for Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance coverage, a daunting challenge facing the Obama administration.

At this point, administration officials said, they do not have a way to enforce the commitment, other than by publicizing the performance of health care providers to hold them accountable. By offering to hold down costs voluntarily, providers said, they hope to stave off new government price constraints that might be imposed by Congress or a National Health Board of the kind favored by many Democrats.

In remarks prepared for delivery to health care providers on Monday, Mr. Obama says: “These groups are voluntarily coming together to make an unprecedented commitment. Over the next 10 years, from 2010 to 2019, they are pledging to cut the growth rate of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year — an amount that’s equal to over $2 trillion.” “Reform is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait,” Mr. Obama says.

In a letter addressed to Mr. Obama, six leaders of the health care industry say: “We will do our part to achieve your administration’s goal of decreasing by 1.5 percentage points the annual health care spending growth rate, saving $2 trillion or more. This represents more than a 20 percent reduction in the projected rate of growth.” The letter was signed by executives of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, a lobby for medical device manufacturers; the American Hospital Association; the American Medical Association; America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group for insurers; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; and the Service Employees International Union. . . . .

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