Obama didn’t say nothing on health care

Here’s the key passage from the State of the Union transcript:

On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.

Which means, according to Wikipedia,

$341 billion in federal health care savings by reforming the Sustainable Growth Rate for Medicare, repeals the CLASS Act (which has already happened), increase Medicare cost sharing, reform health-care tort, change provider payments, increase drug rebates and establishes a long-term budget for total federal health-care spending after 2020 to GDP + 1 percent.

The details in the full report (PDF) include many sensible directions for further reform. Notes:

  • The SGR savings estimate is now lower.
  • Obama has long advocated for more regulatory intervention of pharmaceutical prices.
  • The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) or the HHS Secretary if the IPAB is not staffed is charged with keeping Medicare growth under GDP + 1 percent. Last year, Obama wanted to tighten that to GDP + 0.5 percent. Simpson-Bowles would expand the IPAB’s scope to all federal health care.
  • All in all, this is not nothing. Obama said something on health care. He just said it very efficiently.
  • Of course there are political issues. There are always political issues.
  • I do not like Wikipedia’s hyphenation of “health care.”


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