Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Obama: 'There's No Quick Fix, There's No Silver Bullet'

President Obama Meets With Businesses to Discuss Health Care Cost Cuts
By HUMA KHAN - May 12, 2009 - ABC News

President Obama met with business leaders at the White House today to discuss ways to reduce health care costs for businesses on this second day of health care discussions.

The president pointed to companies like Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson -- two of the five companies represented at the roundtable -- as examples of firms that have seen their bottom lines improve by putting in place efficient health care measures.

He added that these companies will be "informing the health care reform discussions that take place here in Washington" and can serve as a model for other companies and even the federal government.

"There's no quick fix, there's no silver bullet," Obama said in brief remarks following the roundtable. "When you hear what Safeway or Johnson & Johnson or any of these other companies have done, what you've seen is sustained experimentation over many years, and a shift in incentive structures, so that employees see concrete benefits as a consequence of them stopping smoking or losing weight or getting exercise. The provider incentives are aligned with the employee incentives as well, and changing the culture of a company."

The Obama administration, which has made health care a top priority, is touting its partnership with health care industry heavyweights and expressing confidence that a bill will pass this year. But some critics expressed skepticism about voluntary cost cuts.

At Monday's meeting at the White House -- which the president called a "historic" and "a watershed event in the long and elusive quest for health care reform" -- health care industry leaders pledged to trim health care costs by 1.5 percent annually over the next decade.

The savings would add up to $2 trillion by 2019, the White House said, and could save the average family of four $2,500 a year in the next five years.

But with little specifics so far on how cost cuts would actually be implemented by the industry, critics said the plan may meet the same fate as the failed health care plan President Jimmy Carter tried to put in place in 1977.


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