In a jobs speech Thursday night looking and sounding very much like a State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for “making modest adjustments to healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” but lacked specific details on what those adjustments would entail.
Obama hints at healthcare cuts to pay for deficit and jobs bills
“Millions of Americans rely on Medicare in their retirement. And millions more will do so in the future,” Obama said to a joint session of Congress. “They pay for this benefit during their working years. They earn it. But with an aging population and rising healthcare costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program,” he continued. “And if we don't gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won't be there when future retirees need it. We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.”
Earlier Thursday, the Federation of American Hospitals issued a news release that commended the president and Congress for focusing on job growth in America. It also emphasized the role hospitals play in that endeavor, citing a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that said the healthcare industry was one of a few areas that continued to add jobs in the nation's troubled economy. But the Federation also expressed concerns about how future federal policies might affect America's hospitals.
Chip Kahn, the federation's president and CEO, said in the release that "the arbitrary 2% Medicare cuts embedded in the Budget Control Act, by 2021, would lead to nearly 50,000 hospital job losses and $30 billion in lost wages, and would put at risk an equal amount of jobs connected to community hospital economic activity." Deeper Medicare and Medicaid cuts, he said, would "dramatically escalate these losses, threatening to wipe out job gains entirely at the very time that health care can, again, be a leader in the recovery.”
The president, meanwhile, said in his speech that the Congress should find additional savings and revenue beyond what's called for in Budget Control Act in order to pay for his $447 billion jobs bill, and he repeatedly called on Congress to "pass this bill right away."
Obama said he would issue a "more ambitious deficit reduction plan" on Sept. 19.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.