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Health Reform Speech Precedes Expected Medicare Budget Cuts

February 25, 2009
President Barack Obama on Tuesday night, February 24, pledged to reform the faltering health care system by year’s end, calling its costs “crushing” and parlaying wholesale change on modernizing how care is delivered and by pushing Americans to live healthier lives.

“I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process,” Obama told a joint session of Congress in a nationally televised address. “It will be hard.”

The president said that while difficult, reforming health care would be a necessary move to help salvage the sagging economy. He said rising health care costs contribute to a growing number of bankruptcies and foreclosures across the country and has all but stymied growth among small businesses.

“Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold,” he said.

The speech, which mentioned “health care” 15 times and linked economic recovery, in part, to the use of electronic health records, served as preamble to Obama’s first federal budget, due Thursday, February 26. In it, the White House is expected to trim back spending in Medicare and Medicaid, though where and exactly by how much is still uncertain.

“This budget builds on these reforms,” Obama said. “It includes an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform—a down payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American.”

Filed by Matthew DoBias of Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.