With plans to pass sweeping health care reform stalled in Congress, the White House is targeting smaller efforts to improve the nation’s health care system, such as increasing use of cheaper, generic medicines and boosting electronic medical records.
The Obama administration also backed limited steps to lower costs for the massive Medicare insurance program, according to the administration’s fiscal year 2011 budget proposal released Monday.
Democrats in the House and the Senate have passed different versions of legislation that aims to expand access to health insurance for roughly 30 million more Americans but so far have not been able to reach agreement on a final, combined bill.
President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders have vowed to keep pushing to pass a measure but have faced gridlock after Republicans won a crucial Senate seat and the public’s focus has shifted to jobs and the economy.
In his budget proposal, Obama said he was “fighting to reform our Nation’s broken health insurance system” and that his plan “includes funds to lay the groundwork for these reforms.”
His plan includes so-called “demonstration” programs aimed at finding ways to reform payments under the Medicare insurance program for the elderly and disabled, especially for those with chronic diseases that are expensive to treat.
Obama’s plan also calls for $268 million to expand efforts to compare various medical treatments to see which ones work best as well as $110 million for additional investments into health information technology such as electronic medical records.
Both initiatives aim to help reduce overall health care costs by helping doctors chose the most effective therapy or by reducing medical errors.
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