Health and Wealth – The Whitehouse and Congress

A new report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services predicts that, this year, growth in health care spending is expected to be higher than GDP. The report – Health Spending Through 2018: Recession Effects Add Uncertainty To The Outlook – finds:

The health share of GDP is anticipated to rise rapidly from 16.2 percent in 2007 to 17.6 percent in 2009, largely as a result of the recession, and then climb to 20.3 percent by 2018. Public payers are expected to become the largest source of funding for health care in 2016 and are projected to pay for more than half of all national health spending in 2018.

We know just how important an issue this is. Whitehouse healthcare reform now now has its own url.

Clearly healthcare delivery and costs are a huge driver of just about every part of our economy. This past week, we saw a Whitehouse forum on the subject. More follow up is planned. First, the announcement on that more is below. Second, in later posts, I am including information from various groups on programs now being advocated for dealing with healthcare issues.

The President’s budget documents related to healthcare, for the Department of Health and Human Services, includes a broad range of initiatives:

• Accelerates the adoption of health information technology and utilization of electronic health records.

• Expands research comparing the effectiveness of medical treatments to give patients and physicians better information on what works best.

• Invests over $6 billion for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health as part of the Administration’s multi-year commitment to double cancer research funding.

• Strengthens the Indian health system with sustained investments in health care services for American Indians and Alaska Natives to address persistent health disparities and foster healthy Indian communities.

• Invests $330 million to increase the number of doctors, nurses, and dentists practicing in areas of the country experiencing shortages of health professionals.

• Supports families by providing additional funding for affordable, high-quality child care, expanding Early Head Start and Head Start, and creating the Nurse Home Visitation program to support first-time mothers.

• Strengthens the Medicare program by encouraging high quality and efficient care, and improving program integrity.

• Invests over $1 billion for Food and Drug Administration food safety efforts to increase and
improve inspections, domestic surveillance, laboratory capacity and domestic response to prevent and control foodborne illness.

On March 6, 2009, the Whitehouse announced that it would be holding a series of healthcare forums across the country in the next two months. You can see photos from the event here.

The States of California, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Vermont will host “regional forums to continue discussion about bringing down health care costs, expanding coverage for all Americans”

WASHINGTON, DC – Building on Thursday’s White House Forum on Health Care Reform, President Obama announced a series of Regional White House Forums on Health Reform that will bring the conversation about health care reform directly to communities across the country. In keeping with the Obama administration’s commitment to a transparent, accountable government, the forums will be an opportunity for Americans from all over the country to voice their concerns and ideas about reforming our health care system.

“Health care reform is a fiscal imperative,” President Obama said. “Skyrocketing health care costs are draining our federal budget, undermining our long-term economic prosperity and devastating American families. The time for reform is now and these regional forums are some of the key first steps toward breaking the stalemate we have been stuck in for far too long. The forums will bring together diverse groups of people all over the country who have a stake in reforming our health care system and ask them to put forward their best ideas about how we bring down costs and expand coverage for American families.”

The Regional White House Forums on Health Care Reform will be hosted by the states’ Governors and will include participants ranging from doctors to patients to providers to policy experts. They will be open conversations with everyday Americans, local, state and federal elected officials – both Democrat and Republican – and senior Obama administration officials. The events will begin with a video recorded by the President, a summary of the findings from the Health Care Community Discussions that took place in December, and an overview of the discussion that took place at the White House Forum on Health Reform.

The meetings in California, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Vermont will take place in March and early April. Further logistical information about the forums is forthcoming.

The Senate, too, has been at work on this issue. It held a number of hearings in recent weeks:

Full Committee Hearing – Integrative Care: A Pathway to a Healthier Nation, February 26

Full Committee Hearing – Addressing Underinsurance in National Health Reform, February 24

Full Committee Field Hearing – Principles of Integrative Health: A Path to Health Care Reform, February 23

Full Committee Field Hearing – Healthy Howard : Improving Care Through Innovation, February 17

Links to all these hearings may be found here.

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