Obama Embraces Health Care Cost-Cutting Commission (With Teeth)

Finally, some specifics. President Obama wants health care form to be revenue neutral and today endorsed a Congressional proposal to strengthen an independent government-cost cutting commission. In a letter to the two senators who are crafting health care reform bills, Obama said was "open" to giving the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission the power to recommend cost reductions unless Congress overrides the particular rulings. 2009healthcare ltr rel (2).pdf

In the letter, Obama acknowledged  that the costs of health care reform would need to be offset by up to $300 billion more than has already been budgeted, and he said he would consider "appropriate proposals to generate additional revenues."  That's code for, among other things, a tax on health care benefits for individuals making more than $250,000 a year, an idea Obama opposed in the primary when Sen. John McCain made it a centerpiece of the Republican health care platform.   
Obama also used the letter to reiterate his support for  a "public health insurance option" that would "keep the insurance companies honest" and "make the health care market more competitive."  The White House isn't saying whether that plan ought to be big -- in which case it would require more funding -- or small, meaning that it would pay for itself and not crowd out private insurance plans. 

Both the Baucus and Kennedy proposals would create health insurance markets featuring a variety of proposals and would provide subsidizes to those who needed money. Kennedy wants a robust public plan; Baucus is struggling with Republicans over its size and scope.

On MedPac, Obama noted that the commission "is similar to a process that has been used effectively by a commission charged with closing military bases, and could be a valuable tool to help achieve health care reform in a fiscally responsible way."  
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Politics

Just In