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Tess Vigeland: In the decades-long stare-down over the cost of health care in this country, the health system blinked today.
A coalition of interest groups pledged to carve $2 trillion worth of savings out of the nation’s health-care system over the next 10 years. At a White House meeting with President Barack Obama today, doctors, drug companies, health insurance and hospital administrators said they would do their part to bring costs under control. But in return, they want a seat at the table in any talk of health-care reform. Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale has the story.
JOHN DIMSDALE: President Obama reminded health-care stakeholders of two powerful interest groups that favor reform:
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What is a growing crisis for the American people is also becoming an untenable burden for American businesses.
The health-care industry understands reform is in the offing. And to help avert a competing government-run system, they’ll find savings on their own. Though the savings only cut a percent and a half in the growth of health-care costs each year, experts say that’s significant.
The president-elect of the American Medical Association, Dr. James Rohack, was at today’s White House meeting:
JAMES ROHACK: We all, of those who are involved with health care, know that we have some waste in our system of overuse, under-use and misuse.
For example, he says unnecessary medical tests could be avoided if a patient’s doctors could share results. Henry Aaron is a long-time reform advocate at the Brookings Institution. He says it’s admirable the industry wants to save money.
HENRY AARON: But they are legally responsible to their members and shareholders. They have to represent the interests — private interests — of those people.
Interests not necessarily advanced by cutting back on health-care treatments. But Ron Pollack at Families USA is encouraged health-care providers aren’t campaigning against reforms.
RON POLLACK: They are enabling themselves to become participants in the health-reform process. And have a voice in it.
Pollack says President Obama learned from President Clinton who excluded the health-care community that it’s better to keep all sides in the loop.
In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.
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