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Last week, I spoke to you about my commitment to work with Congress to pass health care reform this year. Today, I’d like to speak about how that effort is essential to restoring fiscal responsibility.
When it comes to the cost of health care, this much is clear: the status quo is unsustainable for families, businesses, and government. America spends nearly 50 percent more per person on health care than any other country. Health care premiums have doubled over the last decade, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs have skyrocketed, and many with preexisting conditions are denied coverage. More and more, Americans are being priced out of the care they need.
These costs are also hurting business, as some big businesses are at a competitive disadvantage with their foreign counterparts, and some small businesses are forced to cut benefits, drop coverage, or even lay off workers. Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid pose one of the greatest threats to our federal deficit, and could leave our children with a mountain of debt that they cannot pay.
We cannot continue down this path. I do not accept a future where Americans forego health care because they can’t pay for it, and more and more families go without coverage at all. And I don’t accept a future where American business is hurt and our government goes broke. We have a responsibility to act, and to act now. That is why I’m working with Congress to pass reform that lowers costs, improves quality and coverage, and protects consumer health care choices.
I know some question whether we can afford to act this year. But the unmistakable truth is that it would be irresponsible to not act. We can’t keep shifting a growing burden to future generations. With each passing year, health care costs consume a larger share of our nation’s spending, and contribute to yawning deficits that we cannot control. So let me be clear: health care reform is not part of the problem when it comes to our fiscal future, it is a fundamental part of the solution.
Real reform will mean reductions in our long term budget. And I have made a firm commitment that health care reform will not add to the federal deficit over the next decade. To keep that commitment, my Administration has already identified how to pay for the historic $635 billion down payment on reform detailed in our budget. This includes over $300 billion that we will save through changes like reducing Medicare overpayments to private insurers, and rooting out waste in Medicare and Medicaid.