September 14 2009
Two groups based in Washington, DC, are questioning whether the Obama administration's plans to pay for a government-run healthcare program are really workable.
JD Foster, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, says cutting spending in one program to support another is a good idea, but he questions if enough spending can be cut to fund President Obama's healthcare reform proposal.
"When the president talks about savings in Medicare, that's all well and good, except we're already spending money in Medicare we don't have. We have an unfunded obligation in Medicare that's $90 trillion large," he notes. "Well, you have to get Medicare to the point where it is affordable before you can use additional cuts to offset something else."
Foster says most of the programs the government spends money on are not well-managed and exhibit substantial waste. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Obama's healthcare reform proposal will cost almost $1 trillion over the next ten years.
"This bill suffers a fundamental conflict. You're going to throw more money at healthcare spending, try to get more people insured, and then lower costs by spending more money -- it doesn't work that way," Foster contends. "When you throw more money at something, the price tends to go up, not down."
A visiting fellow with the Independent Women's Forum concurs, saying Obama's healthcare plan does little to lower costs for consumers. Sabrina Schaeffer says many consumer-driven reforms could drive down the cost of healthcare without a government takeover of the industry. (Listen to audio)
"Some of them being expanding high-deductible insurance, or HSAs [health spending accounts], and allowing people to purchase insurance over state lines," she suggests. "Reforming the tax codes so that individuals can purchase insurance as easily as businesses, and so that people have more portability and are not as tied to their employer."
Following Obama's primetime address last week to the nation about healthcare, Schaeffer says polls indicated that 52 percent of Americans dislike the ideas he is proposing.
"They are not happy with the ideas that are being presented from the White House or from the Democrats in Congress, and the White House seems to want to ignore that," she points out. "They can't ignore the poll numbers much longer."