Obama Praises Industry Offer to Contain Health Costs
Revamping the healthcare system and expanding coverage for an estimated 46 million uninsured Americans is a top domestic priority for Obama. He is pushing the Democratic-led Congress to pass a measure by year's end.
The industry and lawmakers broadly agree that the health system needs to be improved but big differences remain on how.
Obama's proposal would establish a new government health insurance plan to compete with private insurers. The administration says that would help cut costs by introducing competition and covering the uninsured.
Republicans and insurers oppose a government plan, arguing that it would undermine the private healthcare market.
Improving efficiency is one of the least controversial aspects of the Obama plan. The government would see savings if the efficiencies lower costs in the huge Medicare system, an existing program for older Americans.
The United States has one of the world's most expensive healthcare systems, despite the high number of uninsured. Studies show it lags other developed nations on indicators of healthcare quality, including life expectancy and infant mortality.
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The effort to paint healthcare reform as a money-saving initiative comes as critics label his hefty domestic agenda fiscally irresponsible. But Obama counters that high budget deficits are a legacy of President George W. Bush, a Republican.
Some ideas to be highlighted at Monday's White House event would require legislation. Lawmakers are already considering basing payments to doctors and hospitals on the quality of care given, not just the number of procedures and treatments.
Health-policy experts say big savings could be achieved by cutting down on unnecessary treatments.