Health care 'ticking time bomb'
President Obama asked skeptical doctors Monday to get behind an overhaul of the nation's health-care system, declaring the system a "ticking...
The Associated Press
CHICAGO — President Obama asked skeptical doctors Monday to get behind an overhaul of the nation's health-care system, declaring the system a "ticking time bomb" for the federal budget that could force the entire nation to "go the way of GM."
The difficulty of his sales job was evident when he said he was against limiting awards in malpractice lawsuits, a top priority for doctors. That statement brought him a smattering of boos.
Flying to his hometown to speak at the annual meeting here of the American Medical Association, Obama struck back at critics of his efforts to reshape the health-care delivery system to bring skyrocketing health-care costs under control and expand coverage to the millions of uninsured.
He warned interest groups and lobbyists not to use "fear tactics to paint any effort to achieve reform as an attempt to socialize medicine."
The president said for the first time publicly that health-care reform, including covering the almost 50 million Americans who have no insurance, would cost $1 trillion over 10 years.
"That's real money, even in Washington," he said.
"But remember: That's less than we are projected to have spent on the war in Iraq. And also remember: Failing to reform our health-care system in a way that genuinely reduces cost growth will cost us trillions of dollars more in lost economic growth and lower wages," he said.
"A big part of what led General Motors and Chrysler into trouble," he said, "were the huge costs they racked up providing health care for their workers — costs that made them less profitable and less competitive....
"If we do not fix our health-care system," Obama said, "America may go the way of GM — paying more, getting less and going broke."
To pay for Obama's plan, Congress is considering tax increases and spending cuts different from the ones he has put on the table.
House Democrats, for example, are considering a tax on soft drinks and a value-added tax, a broad-based consumption tax similar to the sales taxes levied by many states.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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