Backpedaling on Cost Containment

May 18th, 2009 | Sources: NY Times

That didn’t take long.

onestepforward2backJust 3 days after the Big O appeared to make serious hay out of last Monday’s announcement that key health care stakeholders were steppin’ up to save 2 trillion or so in future health care costs, reps from providers and insurers threw a bushel of thumb tacks on the road.

The Coronated One had hailed their cost-cutting promise as historic.

“These groups are voluntarily coming together to make an unprecedented commitment,” Obama told the New York Times. “Over the next 10 years, they are pledging to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5% each year, an amount that’s equal to over $2 trillion.”

Not so, say the reps, who clearly caught an earful from their constituencies after the photo op. They claim to have agreed to cool off spending more gradually and never did they sign up for specific year-by-year cuts.

“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding that has caused a lot of consternation among our members,” Richard Umbdenstock told the Times. And the president of the American Hospital Association added that he’s “spent the better part of three days trying to deal with it.”

visionaryleadertackleshealthreformTo make matters worse, Nancy-Ann DeParle, the director of the White House Office of Health Reform, then pulled a John Kerry by saying “the president misspoke,” and then saying “I don’t think the president misspoke. His remarks correctly and accurately described the industry’s commitment.”

Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans remembers reaching consensus around the concept that savings would “ramp up” more gradually than what Obama had said.

And for his part, David Nexon, an EVP of the Advanced Medical Technology Association recalled that “there was no specific understanding” of the pace with which savings would be achieved.


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