Obama: Healthcare reform deficit neutral

June 15, 2009 at 5:06 PM
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CHICAGO, June 15 (UPI) -- The $1 trillion, 10-year price tag for reforming the U.S. healthcare system is steep, but inaction will cost more, President Obama told physicians Monday.

Obama touted his vision of healthcare reform before the American Medical Association's annual meeting in Chicago, saying providing affordable healthcare for all Americans "will come at a cost" but only in the short-run.

"(Failing) to reform our healthcare system in a way that genuinely reduces cost growth will cost us trillions of dollars more in lost economic growth and lower wages," he said.

He also stressed that healthcare reform would be deficit-neutral over the next decade, explaining how the price tag would be covered.

Over the next 10 years, $635 billion will go toward the Health Reserve Fund that was included in the budget passed several months ago. More than half of the amount will come from revenue-raising efforts such as limiting the tax deductions the wealthiest Americans can take.

Other changes and estimated savings over 10 years include:

-- Introducing competitive bidding into the Medical Advantage program, $177 billion.

-- Use Medicare reimbursements to help reduce preventable re-admissions, $25 billion

-- Generic biologic drugs into the marketplace and asking well-off seniors to pay "a little bit more," $30 billion.

-- More efficient purchasing of prescription drugs, $75 billion.

-- "Rooting out waste, abuse and fraud" throughout the healthcare system, $1 billion.

-- Adjusting Medicare payment to reflect advances and productivity gains in the economy, $109 billion

"I know people are cynical we can do this," he said. "I know there will be disagreements about how to proceed in the days ahead. But I also know that we cannot let this moment pass us by."

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