Health care leaders will (try) cutting $2 trillion — MedCity morning read, May 12, 2009

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Health care reform photo illustrationWASHINGTON, D.C. — Pres. Barack Obama called hospital, drug and insurance industry leaders to the White House on Monday to appeal to their higher purposes — cut $2 trillion out of America’s health care bill over the next 10 years.

The health care leaders signed on for the challenge, knowing the move would earn them a place at the table to negotiate terms of the nation’s health care reform.

But as the president and leaders were celebrating their new collaboration, lawmakers on Capital Hill were planning legislation that is expected to kick off a struggle among health care titans to protect profits while cutting costs, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Health care’s legendary interest groups have stayed at the table in ways that are unprecedented historically,” Drew Altman, a health care policy analyst at the nonprofit Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, told the L.A. Times. “As this debate enters a new phase, the big question is will they still be there.”

Consumer groups and doctors, insurers and drug companies, labor unions and business groups have been meeting in congressional chambers and conference rooms in Washington to advance the nation’s campaign to reform its health care system — and to advance their own purposes.

Since September, Sen. Edward Kennedy — who is being treated for brain cancer — has convened twice weekly meetings to convene health care industry groups to develop legislation, the Times said. An initiative led by health care consumer advocate Families USA used a professional mediator to bring together the usually antagonistic groups.

Some of the groups have bought advertisements together to promote health care overhaul. “This is an enormous change,” Ken Thorpe, health care economist at Emory University in Atlanta, told the Times.

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Mary Vanac

By Mary Vanac

Mary Vanac is a co-founder of MedCity News.
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