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The Washington Independent

Orszag Testimony to Continue Health Reform Debate

Let the games begin. Following yesterday’s  high-profile health reform summit at the White House, the Senate Finance Committee announced today that Peter

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Mar 06, 2009

Let the games begin.

Following yesterday’s  high-profile health reform summit at the White House, the Senate Finance Committee announced today that Peter Orszag, director of the White House Office on Management and Budget, is scheduled to appear before the committee Tuesday to continue the discussion.

Orszag is no stranger to Capitol Hill, nor the topic of health care reform. As director of the Congressional Budget Office in 2007 and 2008, he was at the front lines of efforts to warn lawmakers that the nation’s health care spending — both public and private — is out of control and requires reining in.

So we know exactly what he’s likely to say: (1) Health spending is unsustainable at its current rate of growth. (2) The cause of the health cost crisis is not the aging population, but the cost to treat each patient as a result of ever-evolving technologies, treatments and drugs that everyone wants. (3) Roughly 30 percent of all treatments and procedures do little or nothing to improve the health of patients, so if those interventions can be identified and weeded out, health costs would fall without harming patient care. (4) Medicare and Medicaid cannot be made solvent without reforming the health care delivery system as a whole. And (5) However draconian the changes appear this year (think: tax hikes, benefit cuts and patient cost-sharing), they’ll be a walk in the park relative to those that would have to be made if Congress postpones its health care overhaul to another day.

As we mentioned last week, the list of stakeholders in this debate is long and powerful, and (largely for that reason) nothing has been tougher for presidents to accomplish than sweeping health care reforms. (Obama likes to say that such an overhaul hasn’t occurred since the first Roosevelt administration. As in Teddy).

Someone call Tenzing. It’s gonna be a bloody slog.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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