Health Reform: Biden Formally Announces $155 Billion Agreement With Hospitals

Politico is reporting on its Political Intelligence Blog that Vice President Joe Biden, subbing for President Obama who is at the G-8 economic summit in Italy, formally announced the latest deal with the industry. "The nation's hospitals have tentatively agreed to forego about $155 billion in government payments for Medicaid and Medicare over the next decade -- about 20 percent of the $1 trillion projected to be needed to extend health coverage to about 47 million uninsured Americans."

"The deal follows some concessions by pharmaceutical firms, [and] retail giant Wal-Mart's announcement last week that it would support an employer requirement to help pay for healthcare. The Obama team hopes such agreements build momentum for sweeping healthcare changes; the president wants to sign a bill this year" (Rhee, 7/8).

The Associated Press reports that Biden made the announcement at the White House with hospital administrators and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/8).

According to the Washington Post, "the hospital agreement, like an earlier one that Obama's administration reached with the pharmaceutical industry, is contingent upon the passage of a broad-based plan that would place new burdens on all of the players in the health-care field.  
Richard Umbdenstock, chief executive of the American Hospital Association, made that caveat clear today with a blunt warning to the reporters assembled in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. He said his association is committed to "coverage for all, paid for by all. And hospitals are ready to do our part. But so must all the other stakeholders."

The Post also notes that this "warning was a reminder that while Obama has so far achieved surprising consensus among industry players who in the 1990s had opposed then-President Bill Clinton's health-reform efforts, their participation and enthusiasm will remain tempered until a final, comprehensive approach is developed" (Shear, 7/8).

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