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Word from the White House: Controlling Costs for Families, Small Businesses, and the Government

On the ways in which health insurance reform helps bring down costs.

It's no secret that institutions of all stripes focus their communications on certain messages day to day. We thought it would all be a little more open and transparent if we went ahead and published what our focus will be for the day, along with any related articles, documents, or reports. 

Supporting blog post: "Bending the Curve in More Ways Than One," OMB Blog, OMB Director Peter Orszag, 10/13/09

Talking Points: Controlling Costs for Families, Small Businesses, and the Government

  • From the beginning of this process, President Obama has been clear that health insurance reform must not only provide security and stability for Americans with insurance and affordable options for uninsured Americans, but also slow the unsustainable cost growth that is burdening families, threatening businesses' viability, and exploding our national deficit.
  • Fortunately, the House and Senate versions of reform share a variety of measures that will reduce the rapid growth in health care costs while also providing Americans with higher quality care including:
    • Changing the way we handle hospitalizations, to prevent mistakes and to prevent unnecessary readmissions.
    • Creating incentives in the payment system to reward quality of care rather than just the quantity of procedures.
    • Giving physicians incentives to collaborate in the coordination of patient care.
    • Investing in research into what works and what doesn't in health care.
    • Reducing hospital-acquired infections and other avoidable health-center acquired conditions through rigorous reporting and transparency.
    • Putting prevention first, rewarding care that focuses on wellness and treating the whole patient in an integrated and coordinated delivery system.
    • Tackling the insurance bureaucracy, streamlining the payment system to save time and money that is now spent processing claims and navigating through the byzantine insurance system.
    • Establishing a health insurance exchange with a public insurance option, where individuals and small businesses can buy lower-cost insurance that will spur competition and put downward pressure on costs.
  • These measures build upon the significant down payment we already made in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to begin switching from paper records to computerized records; to strengthen preventive care; to invest in patient-centered health research; and to build up the workforce of primary care providers.
  • And there are also ideas that will further control cost growth that have been proposed and are being looked at as the legislative process continues, such as:
    • A fee on insurance companies offering high-premium plans — which would create a strong incentive for more efficient plans that would help reduce the growth of premiums.
    • Establishing a Medicare commission — which would develop and submit proposals to Congress aimed at extending the solvency of Medicare, slowing Medicare cost growth, and improving the quality of care delivered to Medicare beneficiaries.