Weekly Address: Health Care Reform, the Key to Our Fiscal Future

The President:
Last week, I spoke to you about
my commitment to work with Congress to pass health
care reform this year. Today, I’d like to speak about
how that effort is essential to restoring fiscal responsibility. When it comes to the
cost of health care, this much is clear: the status
quo is unsustainable for families, businesses,
and government. America spends nearly 50 percent
more per person on health care than any other country. Health care premiums have
doubled over the last decade, deductibles and out-of-pocket
costs have skyrocketed, and many with preexisting
conditions are denied coverage. More and more, Americans
are being priced out of the care they need. These costs are also
hurting business, as some big businesses are at a
competitive disadvantage with their foreign counterparts, and
some small businesses are forced to cut benefits, drop coverage,
or even lay off workers. Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid
pose one of the greatest threats to our federal deficit, and
could leave our children with a mountain of debt
that they cannot pay. We cannot continue
down this path. I don’t accept a future where
Americans forego health care because they can’t pay for it,
and more and more families go without coverage at all. And I don’t accept a future
where American business is hurt and our government goes broke. We have a responsibility
to act, and to act now. That’s why I’m working with
Congress to pass reform that lowers costs, improves
quality and coverage, and protects consumer
health care choices. I know some question whether we
can afford to act this year. But the unmistakable truth is
that it would be irresponsible to not act. We can’t keep shifting a growing
burden to future generations. With each passing year, health
care costs consume a larger share of our nation’s spending,
and contribute to yawning deficits that we can’t control. So let me be clear: health
care reform is not part of the problem when it comes
to our fiscal future, it’s a fundamental
part of the solution. Real reform will mean reductions
in our long term budget. And I’ve made a firm commitment that health care reform will not add to the federal deficit
over the next decade. To keep that commitment, my
Administration has already identified how to pay for the
historic $635 billion down payment on reform
detailed in our budget. This includes over $300 billion
that we will save through changes like reducing Medicare
overpayments to private insurers, and rooting out waste
in Medicare and Medicaid. However, any honest accounting
must prepare for the fact that health care reform will require
additional costs in the short term in order to reduce
spending in the long-term. So today, I’m announcing an
additional $313 billion in savings that will rein
in unnecessary spending, and increase efficiency
and the quality of care — savings that will ensure that we have nearly $950 billion set aside to offset the costs of health care reform over the next ten years. These savings will come
from commonsense changes. 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. For more details about
these and other savings, you can visit our website:
www.whitehouse.gov These savings underscore the
fact that securing quality, affordable health care for the
American people is tied directly to insisting upon
fiscal responsibility. And these savings are rooted in
the same principle that must guide our broader approach to
reform: we will fix what’s broken, while building
upon what works. If you like your
plan and your doctor, you can keep them — the only
changes that you’ll see are lower costs and
better health care. For too long, we’ve stood by
while our health care system has frayed at the seams. While there has been excuse
after excuse to delay reform, the price of care has gone up
for individuals, for business, and for the government. This time must be different. This is the moment when we must
reform health care so that we can build a new foundation
for our economy to grow; for our people to thrive; and
for our country to pursue a responsible and
sustainable path. Thanks.

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