Today's Qs for O's WH - 5/11/2009

TAPPER: I'm wondering if the White House is at all concerned that you're not preparing the American people sufficiently for the fact that they, along with everyone else, will have to give something up for health care reform to happen. The President has talked a lot about everyone's going to have to give something up, but I'm wondering -- I mean, if you look at the Dartmouth study that Mr. Orszag talks about all the time, or you look at some of the cost-cutting measures that are being discussed, there are some things that patients will have to give up. I don't hear anybody in the administration -- and I know you're not drafting the legislation -- but I don't hear anybody in the administration talk about that at all. GIBBS: Well, I mean I think you prefaced your question by the president discussing overall the notion that we're all in this together and in order to reform the system, each of us is probably going to have to give. I think what the president would tell you in response to this question, Jake, is right now what they're paying for and what their outcome is is as out-sized here as in any country in the world; that we can make reforms that will cut the cost that they, their families and small businesses bear each day with a series of outcomes that is even greater than what we're experiencing now. Whether that's, you know, dealing on the front end with wellness and health prevention is something that is certainly maybe moderate on the front end, but has huge impacts and effects particularly on the amount of money that you're spending on health care in the out-years. So look, I think this is a -- this will be a long process, but I think the president believes that today was an important step in seeing health care reform come to fruition this year. I think many of the actors that were involved in previous health care reform debates on the opposite side are now -- have what the president talked about, a seat at the table, and are actively involved in looking for a solution that will cut costs for the American people. TAPPER: A follow up to that, sir. GIBBS: Yes. TAPPER: Is there any talk of these cost-saving proposals that the industry is talking about, making them mandatory instead of just voluntary? GIBBS: Well, the president in meeting with the group this morning, before they went out he said to this group, "You've made a commitment.We expect you to keep it." And I think there's pretty good conceptualization of the baseline for health care spending. And I know on some of the calls over the weekend, this isn't something that CBO will score, but what we -- we -- you guys all do stories, and we certainly watch the amount of health care inflation each year. And I think people believe that there is a sufficient ability to track whether or not these reforms are being taken. We certainly believe that the players that are involved and the trade associations that they represent are genuinely serious about moving health care reform forward. But we will be, certainly, evaluating throughout this process how effective they're being, how effective the government is being at curtailing costs for Medicare and Medicaid in hopes of making sure that that savings is realized by American families.

- jpt

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