Kaiser Health News Debuts Today and Features an Important Insight Into a Likely Health Care Bill


Kaiser Health News (KHN) debuted today and is a critically important addition to America's debate over health care reform.As the media has downsized in recent years, we have lost many reporters who were health care specialists. KHN
will provide news outlets across the country with an important
specialized source of solid reporting from an organization that has
come to be known as uniquely expert and unbiased.In their inaugural issue today, Julie Appleby has an interesting interview with Nancy Ann DeParle, the President's point person on reform.

I thought a couple of her answers to Appleby's questions were telling:

Congress is batting around cost-control measures as part of this
discussion but also is considering a number of other ways to pay for
health reform, including tax increases. Do you think the president
would sign a health reform bill if paying for it relied mainly on new

A: No.

Q: So what is he looking for?

I haven’t had that discussion with him. We proposed in our budget a
$634 billion reserve fund, which was divided about equally between
Medicare and Medicaid savings proposals and some new revenues. We’ve
been working with Congress to identify other sources of Medicare and
Medicaid savings and other sources of revenue. Again, I don’t believe a
bill like the one you described will be presented to the president. I
believe the bill will be fully financed, evenly divided between savings
in Medicare and Medicaid and some other sources of revenue, such as the
ones he’s identified.

The operative phrase here is "evenly
divided between savings in Medicare and Medicaid and some other sources
of revenue such as the ones he's identified." Those other sources, in his budget "down payment" for health care reform were taxes. Looks pretty clear the White House is expecting half of the cost for a health care bill to be paid for by taxes.

Industry groups are supposed to come back to you with plans on how they
promise to slow the growth of health spending by $2 trillion over 10
years. Are you still expecting to hear from them June 1 with some
A: I am. They were to update me in
early June. They’re working very hard. They’ve hired some outside
consultants to help them work through this and facilitate the process.

How confident are you that the proposals they present will be scorable
by the Congressional Budget Office or in some way measurable and

A: I know they will be measurable and
quantifiable and will provide tangible benefits to families and people
struggling to afford health care. I believe some will be able to be
scored by CBO.

Translated: There won't be a lot more than just empty boxes–"I believe some will be able to be scored by the CBO."

As I have been writing recently, I
expect the final health care reform bill to have some cost containment
window dressing, some modest provider cuts that don't hurt too much,
and lots of taxes.

Looks like the White House is expecting the same thing.

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