The President’s Budget: Small Scale Proposals for a Large Scale Problem

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February 13, 2012

CONTACT:Lindsay Harnish

The President’s Budget: Small Scale Proposals for a Large Scale Problem
Statement by John Rother, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care

President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal, released today, acknowledges some important challenges in our health system, but falls short of the kind of significant, lasting changes that will reduce the growth of health costs while maintaining Medicare and Medicaid’s vital protections and ensure a system that is affordable, sustainable, and fair, now and for future generations. 

This budget recognizes that our health system, as structured today, is not yet prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow.  The budget’s investments in the primary care workforce and increased funding for CMS would help develop the system capacity to respond to the rising prevalence of chronic disease and the rising cost of treating it.  Pharmaceutical costs are a large portion of health spending and limiting the exclusion period for biologics and prohibiting “pay for delay” agreements that keep lower cost generic drugs out of the market are sensible steps to address this area. 

Unfortunately, reducing funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund is a short-sighted proposal. Though prevention and population health activities rarely garner scored savings in the Congressional Budget Office’s relatively short ten year window, they are the key to reducing long term health spending. Savings recouped by cuts to the fund are dwarfed by the potential future savings it could produce. 

The proposed budget contains a mix of proposals for reducing health system spending, but they all have one thing in common – most are small scale approaches to a large scale problem. Now is the time for comprehensive provider payment reform in Medicare, for permanently eliminating the sustainable growth rate formula, and for bold steps to lower costs and drive improved value in the health system. We cannot put these problems off much longer.


The NCHC Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) not for profit organization devoted to public education, and advocacy to secure stable affordable health care for America. The National Coalition on Health Care, the oldest and most diverse alliance of groups committed to securing and sustaining health care system reform, is a 501(c)(3) organization. Some members of the National Coalition Health Care (NCHC) do not, or cannot, take positions either on specific legislation, strategies or on any policies outside their respective mission areas. Not every member of NCHC has a position on or supports every position of the NCHC Action Fund. However, all that can, do endorse broad policy positions do support comprehensive health system reform. Both organizations are located at 1120 G Street, NW, Suite 810, Washington, DC 20005. Phone: (202) 638-7151.

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