May 11th, 2009
05:16 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Healing Health Care?

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Are you one of the millions of Americans fed up with health care costs? Today at the White House President Obama met with leaders from the health care industry vowing to change the system.

The "coalition" of doctors, drug makers, health insurance executives and others say they will lower costs.

"What's brought us all together today is a recognition that we can't continue down the same dangerous road we've been traveling for so many years. The costs are out of control and that reform is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait," said Pres. Obama.

Their pledge: Save $2 trillion on health care over the next 10 years. (CLICK HERE for more details)

Some of the changes the coalition is working on, include:

· Reducing drug prices.

· Improving care after hospitalizations and reduce hospital readmission rates

· Expanding the Hospital Quality Improvement Program

· Improving Medicare and Medicaid payment accuracy

Pres. Obama says this is just the beginning and more proposals are in the works. He says he knows the pain of worrying over medical bills.

"My mother passed away from ovarian cancer a little over a decade ago. And in the last weeks of her life, when she was coming to grips with her own mortality and showing extraordinary courage just to get through each day, she was spending too much time worrying about whether her health insurance would cover her bills. So I know what it's like to see a loved one who is suffering, but also having to deal with a broken healthcare system," he said.

But is it easier to talk about reform than actually get it done? Remember, 15 years ago the Clinton Administration couldn't get health care reform approved in Congress.

And, this $2 trillion dollar commitment to cut costs is voluntary. Not enforceable. The medical organizations don't want Congress to make any laws determining medical prices. So, they're hoping that by promising to cut costs themselves, they'll stop the government from doing it.

What do you think of today's meeting? A good first step? Sound off below.

Tonight we'll also have the latest on the U.S. soldier accused of killing five of his comrades in Iraq. Is post-traumatic stress disorder connected to the killings?

Join us for these stories are more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Nicole

    Healthcare institutions looking to save money do so by looking at staffing.

    As a nurse, I am already feeling the stress of hospital administration cutting nursing staff. Therefore, my patient load is increased. My patients receive less of my time. This increases the possibility for complications in patient outcomes.

    Increased poor pt outcomes leads to increased healthcare expenditure.

    I would hope healthcare institutions would be urged not to reduce front-line clinical professionals as a cost-cutting measure.

    May 12, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  2. Mike

    Just who exactly will these proposals made today benefit? Who is saving this 2 trillion over 10 years? I think the patient will be at the bottom of that list. Politics as usual, how depressing. This is change i sure don't believe in.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  3. EM

    The comments already demonstrate the complexity of American healthcare. This coalition is an attempt to take control where there is none and will not be any. The government needs to forward a solution that matches the complexity of the system by providing adequate avenues for competition, choice, and most significantly improving health outcomes. The coalition is a distracting sidestep to appear to be doing something.

    As for the issue of the Soldier, we commonly call out PTSD before understanding the true cause of someone's maladjustment. An investigation is worth the wait, but this is an indicator about the comprehensive approach to soldiering from selecting the most appropriate individuals to join the military and their over-utilization. It may just be simple anger from an individual with easy access to deadly weapons.

    May 12, 2009 at 9:42 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    Talk about lobbying and too little too late, this says it all.
    It would still leave 45million Americans unable to have access to reasonable medical care.
    They are dealing with the symptoms after the event and not the cause!!
    They are still hanging onto "pre-conditions", "exclusions" and Doctors and medical care institutions hiding behindprivate medical care policy rules to withold treatment because of no insurance.
    Medical staff and doctors should be ashamed of themselves especially doctors whose hypocratic oath precludes such behaviour, fee or no fee!!
    Sorry it is simple as you have pointed out:
    1) How come medication is so expensive in America c/f anywhere else. My god half my spam E-mail is special deals on viagra and other medications
    2) Anyone could have treatment in India for a serious illness including paying air fares and accomodation etc and save money against the disallowables.
    These are " sick" ( ha ha not) jokes beyond belief!!
    What they put forward comes no where near addressing the fundamental problems with US health care.
    Dig deeper Anderson,it's worth a full 1 hour segment!!

    May 12, 2009 at 7:43 am |
  5. Art

    Your right "Carol King". The compounding issue is a attitude and integrity one. Until we fix this the wound won't heal. Remember, the health care industry is a business, just like the oil companys, enough said.

    May 12, 2009 at 6:04 am |
  6. Linda Young

    Elizabeth Edwards should be given the latitude to say what ever it is she has to say and/or do to become at peace with the situation. Mr. Edwards apparently has realized/decided that she should be given that respect. Ms. Hunter needs to do the same. If she was interested in who the child's father was she should have had it done DNA before now. Mr. Edwards and Ms. Hunter have sewn their oats, now it is Mrs. Edward's turn.

    May 12, 2009 at 5:42 am |
  7. Linda Young

    Correction on Cheney comment, collecting all of his information FROM him.

    May 12, 2009 at 5:39 am |
  8. Linda Young

    Please allow Cheney to keep talking, the Hague is clearing its calendar and collecting all his information for him.

    May 12, 2009 at 5:22 am |
  9. Christopher Hall

    Hi AC,
    I voted against the demacrats this time. My town did not do a very good job either. I wonder what happened to Dick Cheney. Did he even run for president?

    May 12, 2009 at 4:47 am |
  10. Bob Rodert

    I just read 25 comments on the subject of what to do to fix the broken US health care system. Not a single comment proposed a national system model that's based on Kaiser Permanente's. I've been a member for my entire 40 year career and now for 10 years of retirement. The cost are very competitive and affordable, the health care is excellent, facilities are among the best and I don't have to go through any insurance carrier to get permission to see either my primary care physician or a reference to a specialist. Many drugs are in their formulary and available for the $20 copay. As far as I know they are not for profit and seem to be very health financially. If Kaiser can do it, it seems to me that others following the Kaiser model could be also at much less and affordable costs!. We don't need for-profit insurance companies in the loop! Period!

    May 12, 2009 at 3:29 am |
  11. Bud Vitoff

    One reason doctors have to charge alot is that their malpractice insurance costs them so much. Malpractice insurance costs a lot because of the ridiculously high settlements awarded through litigation. It might help a little if we could keep these awards down to something more reasonable .

    May 12, 2009 at 3:25 am |
  12. Janie, knoxville, tn

    After my heart valve replacement in 1993, BCBS blacklisted me with a "preexisting condition." So regardless of how much money I've paid for insurance premiums, the costs of any test, treatment, or procedure related to my heart has not been paid. And since I earn a good salary, I don't qualify for government insurance programs. I, and the many individuals like me, need this change.

    May 12, 2009 at 2:47 am |
  13. DJ Smith

    My two year old grandaughter lives with me, but i can't afford insurance for her. I'm a veteran so I get to go to the slowest health care on the planet but at least I'm getting something. My grandaughter fell and open a cut on her head and I rushed her to the hospital in my car, but when I look back, I did it because of ambulance cost and the lack of empathy I've seen people get without insurance. I will gladly pay into a national health care system.

    May 12, 2009 at 2:08 am |
  14. Jenn

    Everyone needs to take responsibility and give a little bit, providers, patients, drug companies, hospitals, etc. Litigation is indeed the blind eye, root cause of the problem. I hereby put forth a call to all good providers. Tell the truth about litigation, practice full disclosure, change the system to a just culture, one of full transparency and honor. I hereby put forth a call to all patients, take full responsibility for your health, do all that you can do to comply, cooperate and communicate. Build bridges instead of barriers, develop relationships rather than mere business transactions, and put forth trust, honor and collaboration rather than mistrust, disdain and despair. For this is the only true way to healthcare reforms that will sustain.

    May 12, 2009 at 1:43 am |
  15. Eric Roberts

    The only solution is to kill what we have going and replace it with universal health care. Stop pandering to the insurance lobby and go tell the where they can stick it.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:51 am |
  16. Eric Roberts

    Another problem is what the hospitals charge. I was recently in the hospital for a diabetes related leg infection. I do contract work, so I don;t have access to employer sponsored plans. And since I have diabetes and asthma, insurance companies won;t touch me. My 4 day hospital stay cost 19,855. They charged me 30.00 each for every metformin pill I took (I can buy 90 of them for 57.50 at Walgreens). Every time the nurse checked my blood sugar levers (with a regular meter like the one I use at home), they charged 125.00All the meds that I was charged for, I could buy at retail costs for at least 1\3-1\4 of what they charged me for. My trip to the ER for that cost 2100.00 and for what? So my wife could pull me out of the car and put me in a wheel chair wioth no assistance from hospital staff? So I could pass out from dehydration while she called for help and no one bothered to respond. The only reason I didn't hit the ground was because someone waiting there caught me and helped me back into the wheelchair. I waited an hour before I saw a doctor, even though i was drifting in and out of consciousness. The nursing care was ok. I have had way better treatment. I used to be a medic in that Army. I would expect to have been court martialed if I would have treated a patient like that.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:50 am |
  17. Alexander

    I don't really have a problem with those people who don't want more government spending or more money going toward entitlement programs. However, if everyone is on their own, then I would like to stop paying a good part of my taxes. I don't want to pay for your medicare, your social security, or your child's education. I'll take that extra 7 8 9 grand, or what ever the dollar amount is, a year and use it to take care of me and my own. Then if I lose my job I wont ask for unemployment or help with medical insurance. Point being, if you want everybody to stand on their own, then stand on your own. I can't afford to help a bunch of people who wouldn't help me if I were to need it.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:48 am |
  18. Joe


    Everything you have listed that Obama *should* do is actually outlined in his entire health care reform plan. This is one of many steps he is taking. Patience, grasshopper.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:35 am |
  19. Jim H

    The cuts they have announced are good, but not enough. Private insurance costs each and every one of us 20-30% in overhead and profits. There MUST be a "Medicare for all" option in the upcoming health plan. A large influx of young, healthy recipients would fix the Medicare system, and provide all the coverage many people want and need. And only 3% of Medicare's costs are from overhead. And there are no bondholders to pay off with profits.

    I've lived in Canada, and frankly, as a delivery system, there is just no comparison. Health care is best delivered by a non-profit infrastructure. Nobody should suffer because some investor needs his profit, and that's the way it is, now. Insurance companies have no incentive to "cut costs," because our costs are their profits, and their "losses" are our treatments.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:34 am |
  20. Valerie Stockert

    Thank God I live in Canada. Sure my taxes are high but I don't have to pay to see my doctor or worry about losing everything I've worked for if I get sick.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:33 am |
  21. Michael Chicago

    The costs skyrocket because of unnecessary tests to keep the lawyers at bay and because medicare and medicaid don't pay what services actually cost. A new system like these will quickly drive insurers out of business and leave the government in charge.

    A government run system will have the compassion of the IRS and the efficiency of the post office. We need to fix the present system where +/- 85% of the people have insurance, not try something new, goverment run on 100% of the people.

    Read an independent analysis of the Massachusettes experiment, ask where the money goes and why.

    Ask why people in the UK (England and Australia) buy private health insurance.

    Our system can be fixed but there is no free lunch. All will have to pay something, some will have to pay more and many will have to take better care of themselves,

    May 12, 2009 at 12:27 am |
  22. Jean Esh

    Wake up America! Barack Obama did not create this problem. ... like so many other issues, he inherited this baby. It is incredulous to me that we are willing to pay top athletes millions of dollars to show up at a game – even if they don't play I guarantee that not one of them asked to have their "salaries" reduced...Yeah and how bout those big American "enterprises" not just the pharmaceuticals but almost any huge corporation – rolling in the dough that they have filched from the innocents – how about the Drs who place people on "chronic" pain programs – forcing pts to return monthly for that pain med script thus insuring the practice guaranteeing a certain amt of renewable income. No – don't blame Barck – blame ourselves for having stood for this egerious behavior for so many decades.....

    May 12, 2009 at 12:21 am |
  23. Mark Stone

    The Insurance, pharmacudical, and hospital CORPORATIONS control our government, not the other way around. As long as they contribute millions for political campaigns, lobbyists, and bogus advertising, meaningfull healthcare reform is never going to happen. CNN, TBS, NBC, CBS, are "drunk" on the money they get from these companies, so your not going to see any negative news about these 800 lb. Vultures that have been feeding off the public for decades!

    May 12, 2009 at 12:17 am |
  24. MD

    I agree. As a doctor, the number one cost I see is unnecessary tests ordered out of fear of litigation. Why is this not being addressed...Is it because Obama is a lawyer at heart.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:15 am |
  25. rick

    also, for those who don't want the government involved in their healthcare business, don't use medicare when you reach that age nor use medicaid for your children. and, if you have a federal or state job, don't use their healthcare. oh, and don't join the military. you will have to use TRICARE or TRICARE for Life, which is a government healthcare system. oh, and veterans shouldn't go to the VA if they don't want government involvement in their healthcare because it is government insurance...(I could go on, but...)

    May 12, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  26. Matt

    Anderson needed to discuss the other half of the problem- public expectations. Health care is expensive at least in part because of the expectation that tests will be done and any and all treatments will be offered even if they are not indicated or effective. These expectations are especially apparent at the end of life where a large percentage of money is spent. We are also all to ready to file suit when there is a bad outcome. This leads to unnecessary testing as well. Universal coverage is an admirable goal that I support but will those who demand their MRIs and knee arthroscopies for the high school athlete, hospital admission for their relative who just isn't right, or their Cialis allow it. I have doubts.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  27. Ron in Raleigh

    I truly believe that health insurance is the root problem, and the LAST thing we need is mandatory universal health care insurance. Yes, I see doctor and hospital bills that look outrageous. Case in point: a hospital bill for $8,000 when I had knee surgery. Did insurance help? Yes, the insurance company told the hospital they could only charge $800. Of this, I had to pay to 20% or $160.

    Well, if the hospital had just billed me $800, I could probably have paid this out of pocket, mainly from all the money (thousands of $$$) I could save by not paying insurance premiums. So we basically seem to need insurance companies to limit the amount the care providers charge.

    So, if we are paying thousands in insurance premiums and the providers are only getting a small part of this, who's getting the money??? IT"S THE INSURANCE COMPANIES!!! Our health care money is paying the middle man. I say get rid of the middle man.

    And if we have mandatory universal health care requirement... The insurance companies will love this. It means that every one of us will be captive to the insurance companies. And don't think they won't raise the premiums through the roof once they get mandatory universal health care passed.

    Kick the insurance lobbies out of Washington and out of our lives.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  28. rick

    i think they should do both. the healthcare execs never cared about how the cost of healthcare affected the average consumer. they only care about how much profit can be made. if there should be legislation for both right now and over the next 10 years...

    May 12, 2009 at 12:08 am |
  29. ray

    It is so shameful that currently the system penalizes for efficient and sound medical care. I am physician who would like to sit down with my patient, I would like to spend time with them going over why they don't need all those high resolution CTs for their ( which by the way they cause 3 % of cancer in this country) Current system penalizes me because time spent with your physician is under paid grossly. Ordering more tests and procedures fetch $$. Physicians are losing their clinical skills and the current system is driving this trend. How often do you hear your physician talking about risks of a contrast CT and how often do they counsel you on your BMI? If you have someone who does this, I suggest you keep them for good, because they care about harm of treatments

    May 12, 2009 at 12:04 am |
  30. Marshall Streams

    Honesty, integrity and citizenship – these are the prerequisites for creating an effective comprehensive health care system. The problem with "universal health care" is simply the tendency of some to abuse the system. We need patients to use the system when they truly need it and to get preventive care routinely. We need doctors to order tests when appropriate and do procedures because they have a significant proven benefit, not for marginal benefit spurred by financial gain. We need lawyers (and patients) to work with doctors to eliminate the need for "defensive medicine" – a practice that costs us all dearly as this money could certainly be put toward better use. We also need lawyers to work with doctors to better define risk and the financial compensation individuals can expect for bad outcomes rather than tell patients to expect no limit to the dollar amount they could receive. We need pharmaceutical companies to acknowledge that the studies they sponsor prove a benefit of certain drugs for certain people and that most people who end up getting the drug do not fit the profile of the people in the original study and thus may not be benefiting AT ALL from the drug. We need the insurance industry to get out of the business if they don't like covering people who are SICK!!! The purpose of a health care system is to benefit the sick – not to benefit those who have money!!! We all need to believe in one another – recognize that you treat the illness in your neighbor both because that illness could spread to you and because it's the right thing to do!!! We are Americans and we have always found a way – inventiveness, creativity, spunk, spirit – WE CAN DO THIS!!

    May 12, 2009 at 12:02 am |
  31. Lou

    One proposal at today's Health Care Summit was for doctors to reduce their fees. Those of us in Psychiatry and Primary Care already have had their fees reduced for years by public and private insurance. Some physicians propose not seeing any more Medicare/Medicaid patients. Some "see" more patients per hour by spending hardly any time with each. I plan to keep seeing Medicare/Medicaid patients and giving them the same attention I have been giving for the past 25 years. The only change I am making is I am reducing ("adjusting") my tax payments by the same percentage that Medicare and Medicaid have "adjusted" my usual and customary charges. If other physicians did the same, our legislators and President might take more seriously the threatened shortage of Psychiatrists and Primary Care Physicians. If other physicians did the same, our legislators and President might realize that not all doctors are rich, but all are entitled to a similar degree of financial security as are other professionals in our society. Action speaks louder than words!

    May 12, 2009 at 12:01 am |
  32. Julie C

    My husband and I do not have health care, we live in NY and the Healthy NY web site tells me we make 200 too much per month, so we can't have the discounted health care we could actually afford to pay for. I mean really is it all that much, I really think they should raise cost of living in NY to what it should be for two to make only 3200 per month in NY is not a big deal and the limit is 3026. I am outraged, I called and they said there is nothing they can do and to try the other links on the web site but they are also for much lower income. Where is the middle??? What do we do?

    May 12, 2009 at 12:01 am |
  33. Julian

    It seems that all the players are at the table except the trial lawyers. Medical malpractice and concerns of such greatly impact healthcare costs and practice... and not positively. The present system does not work and does not improve quality. It does, however, increase costs, make "part-time" doctors almost extinct, and incentivize attorneys and the public to push for large awards often only for money sake. The goal should be quality and accountability and care in the system.

    May 12, 2009 at 12:00 am |
  34. Jennifer

    Health care reform by talking with the folks whom are stealing money out of our pockets monthly. They haven't done anything but raise prices every 6months. They keep the sick from getting the plans and then we all have to pay for those whom aren't even paying into our system.
    We need help now, we need physicians and patients to make judgment calls on health care not pencil pushers whom are told to continue to say no. Try and get health care when you are 3 months pregnant, no one will accept you. Mommy's to be have to go on state care.
    I am disappointed to see Obama meeting with the wrong people. Meet with the physicians meet with the non profit companies. We need a single payer plan.
    Greed in the industury should have been the talking point with the CEO's of pharmy's and healthcare!!!! Greed is killing people..

    May 11, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  35. Priscilla

    The health care system is killing me I'm a nurses aid and I have asthma and a tooth infection and I can't even get medical benafits because it goes by hours and patients every time a patient goes in the hospital I loose hrs and I can't get benfits. Not only that I'm taking care of sick people and enjoy it but I have also got sick from my job and left with a two hundred dollar bill I can't pay. What about health care for health care worker who are home Heath aids hospice . There so many programs for kids what about us who help people

    May 11, 2009 at 11:55 pm |
  36. scott

    National healthcare? Hmm, If I am 78 years old and want an expensive total knee replacement do you think the government workers will approve of my operation? They will find ways to not spend money.

    May 11, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  37. Luke Nelligan

    What about the insurance companies? They paid big money to both parties to have their interests protected. Our government attacks the providers, and lets the CEO of Anthem Wellpoint make 40 million dollars per year. The same government that allows cigarettes to be sold complains about the rising cost of healthcare. They pay their salaries from revenues generated by a preventable cause of cancer, heart disease and death. They target easy money, and they reward the people that pay for their election campaign. Nothing has changed, and that is something I believe in.

    May 11, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
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