News & Events

Obama seeks healthcare spending cuts (MS)

WASHINGTON – President Obama yesterday proposed to rein in spending on federal health programs for the elderly and the poor by an additional $313 billion over the next decade, bringing his total proposed savings to nearly $950 billion – enough to cover most of the cost of a sweeping healthcare overhaul, a top adviser said.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama proposed limiting the growth of Medicare fee-for-service payments, taking hospitals and other health providers at their word that they will reduce costs.

Obama also proposed slashing subsidies to hospitals that treat uninsured patients, on the theory that very few uninsured patients will remain in the wake of an overhaul. Obama also suggested reducing payments to drug companies that serve Medicare recipients. Advisers declined to release details, saying the idea was still under discussion.

"These savings will come from common sense changes," Obama said. "For example – if more Americans are insured, we can cut payments that help hospitals treat patients without health insurance. 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."

By requiring cuts in federal payments to health providers, the measures would go a long way toward ensuring that untested innovations in health delivery produce savings for the federal government and restrain runaway growth in spending on Medicare and Medicaid.

Congressional budget analysts agree that the approach will save money, and the Senate Finance Committee included two of Obama’s biggest money-saving ideas on a list of financing options released last month.

But like other parts of Obama’s plan, the measures announced yesterday are likely to meet skepticism on Capitol Hill.


GOP slams climate change bill as an energy tax WASHINGTON – Republicans yesterday slammed a Democratic bill before the House that seeks to address climate change, saying it amounts to an energy tax on consumers.

In the GOP’s weekly radio and Internet address, Representative Mike Pence of Indiana said Congress should instead open the way for more domestic oil and natural gas production and ease regulatory barriers for building new nuclear power plants.

"During these difficult times, the American people don’t want a national energy tax out of Washington, D.C.," said Pence, the third-ranking House Republican.