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Friday AM February 27th, 2009

image of medical drPresident Barack Obama’s proposed budget would slow Medicaid and Medicare growth to help create a fund billed as a “down payment” on healthcare reform. Ed Mayberry reports.


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Obama is earmarking $821 billion for the Health and Human Services Department, which includes Medicare and Medicaid — up from the current $764 billion.  But that’s less growth than requested, creating funds for a ten-year, $634 billion fund to begin healthcare reform.  John Boettiger with Deloitte Financial Advisory Services says there’s a lot of interest in the stimulus package.

“And so I think there’ll be some curiosity about how to access dollars.  There’s some really interesting approaches around better leveraging healthcare information technology.  That comes with some carrots and then later on some sticks and penalties if you’re not successful.  And the question on everyone’s mind is what’s the best way for those dollars to be utilized, and then at a personal level, how do they best compete for those dollars to help their institution be successful long-term.”

President Obama rejects the idea that the economic crisis makes the overhaul of healthcare too difficult to contemplate at this time.

“The director of the Office of Management and Budget and President Obama believe — and they’ve expressed this before — that to fix the budget, you have to fix healthcare.  And so, that those components and elements have to work together in the short-run from a stimulus perspective to help the country recover — healthcare’s a significant piece of the annual budget, and that those have to work together long-term for the country to be successful.”

Boettiger is part of a panel of speakers addressing healthcare issues at this morning’s Boyar & Miller Breakfast Forum at the Houstonian. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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