Why the Obama Health Plan Is Not Entitlement Reform

“Health care reform is entitlement reform.”

So said Peter Orszag, President Barack Obama’s first budget director, at a bipartisan fiscal responsibility summit called by the president in February 2009. President Obama had assumed office just a little over a month earlier, and he was signaling to the country and to those present at the White House that his top domestic priority during his first year in office — securing a health care law that covered all Americans with health insurance — was consistent with his commitment to impose renewed fiscal discipline.

He and his team knew there would be many in Congress, even among members of his own party, who would be wary of mounting an all-out effort to pass an ambitious health reform program given the expected cost of such an initiative and the daunting budgetary challenges already facing the country. Most House and Senate members have been aware for many years that rising health entitlement costs — in the form of Medicare and Medicaid expenditures — threaten to push the nation’s finances past the breaking point. If the country can’t pay for its existing health care commitments, how could the president afford to make expensive new promises of subsidized health care to millions of new beneficiaries?

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“Health care reform is entitlement reform.”

So said Peter Orszag, President Barack Obama’s first budget director, at a bipartisan fiscal responsibility summit called by the president in February 2009. President Obama had assumed office just a little over a month earlier, and he was signaling to the country and to those present at the White House that his top domestic priority during his first year in office — securing a health care law that covered all Americans with health insurance — was consistent with his commitment to impose renewed fiscal discipline.

He and his team knew there would be many in Congress, even among members of his own party, who would be wary of mounting an all-out effort to pass an ambitious health reform program given the expected cost of such an initiative and the daunting budgetary challenges already facing the country. Most House and Senate members have been aware for many years that rising health entitlement costs — in the form of Medicare and Medicaid expenditures — threaten to push the nation’s finances past the breaking point. If the country can’t pay for its existing health care commitments, how could the president afford to make expensive new promises of subsidized health care to millions of new beneficiaries?

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

About the author