This is, at best, wishful thinking. Many of the proposed reductions in future Medicare spending would require hospitals and other providers to come up with ways to cover the savings. In theory, this could be accomplished by eliminating the vast quantities of waste and abuse that permeate the health-care system. But some analysts fear that it could affect the quality of care. No one really knows how the cuts would affect the system.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are proposing a number of very specific reforms to improve the quality of care while reducing the number of procedures performed. The president's independent commission proposes to expand those reforms when they work and end them when they don't. Many health-care experts view this as a promising route to cutting costs without harming care to the millions of senior citizens who rely on Medicare.
-- Lori Montgomery
Obama's rhetoric on the public insurance option -- that he favors it and wants it, but won't demand it, "and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal" -- sounds remarkably similar to that used Tuesday by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), whose comments on the subject caused some consternation among House liberals.
Hoyer's basic point, which he had made before, was that he supported the public option but that it was not indispensable. The White House has long signaled that Obama feels the same way, and he reiterated that Wednesday night. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), meanwhile, has been more vocal in her support for the public option. If push comes to shove, the House Democratic leadership will back a final bill without a public option. But what about the rest of the caucus?
-- Ben Pershing