In his speech Tuesday night, President Barack Obama said he was serious about fixing the health care crisis in this country. The budget that was released today show's that President Obama is very serious about health care. Very serious:
President Obama is proposing to begin a vast expansion of the U.S. health-care system by creating a $634 billion reserve fund over the next decade, launching an overhaul that most experts project will ultimately cost at least $1 trillion.The "reserve fund" in the budget proposal being released today is Obama's attempt to demonstrate how the country could extend health insurance to millions more Americans and at the same time begin to control escalating medical bills that threaten the solvency of families, businesses and the government.
Obama aims to make a "very substantial down payment" toward universal coverage by trimming tax breaks for the wealthy and squeezing payments to insurers, hospitals, doctors and drug manufacturers, a senior administration official said yesterday.
Embedded in the budget figures are key policy changes that the administration argues would improve the quality of care and bring much-needed efficiency to a health system that costs $2.3 trillion a year.
By first identifying a large pot of money to underwrite health-care reform -- before laying out a proposal on who would be covered or how -- Obama hopes to draw Congress to the bargaining table to tackle the details of a comprehensive plan. The strategy is largely intended to avoid the mistakes of the Clinton administration, which crafted an extensive proposal in secret for many months before delivering the finished product to lawmakers, who quickly rejected it.
I'm impressed by the strategy -- and the number.