[Posted by Karl]
The President is attempting to claim credit for savings that (a) do not yet exist, (b) are not backed up by any specific changes in industry practices or government policies, and (c) are related to him only in that the groups announced they were adopting his quantitative goal. For all three of these reasons, the President’s claim that these savings will materialize is wildly unrealistic, and it is absurd to attach a per-family savings number to it.
RTWT, if only for the amusing sports analogy Hennessey rolls out. Moreover, it is not just people on the Right left unimpressed. The New York Times analysis of the event merely tries to draw a smiley face on the points Hennessey makes, while noting:
None of the proposals are enforceable, and none of the savings are guaranteed. Without such a guarantee, budget rules would normally prevent Congress from using the savings to pay for new initiatives to cover the uninsured.
Meanwhile, lefty blogger Ezra Klein has figured out that the photo-op had two sides:
[I]t’s not just the administration that benefits from the optics. It’s the medical industry. The fact that the White House is making a big deal of their support means it would be a big deal if they lost it. And so it’s worth asking what, exactly, the health care industry has committed itself to.
And the answer is: Not much. As one senior administration official said to me, “this is a commitment, not a plan.” The industry coalition has gestured towards various areas of potential savings — among them billing reform, health information technology, and linking payment to outcomes. But they’ve not presented a detailed proposal for attaining them. They have not set down enforcement mechanisms. Put simply, they are, at this juncture, helping the White House with its messaging. But that doesn’t mean they will help the White House with its legislation.
What we have, in other words, are promises of future cost containment that exist alongside concrete and continued opposition to the cost containment ideas that are actually on the table.
Indeed, Klein notes that the pharmaceutical industry and the device industry already successfully defeated one of Obama’s healthcare gambits in the original stimulus bill.
What next? Buried on Page A16, the New York Times reports that the 45 members of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House are protesting the secrecy of the committee chairmen writing the House bill. Alienating moderate Democrats seems like a dumb way to advance a government takeover of healthcare that is already unaffordable. The Obama administration has deliberately left its plan vague, on the theory that Clintoncare failed in 1994 after Hillary drafted a secret plan and dumped it on Congress. It is far from clear that Henry Waxman, George Miller and Charlie Rangel drafting a healthcare takeover in secret will be seen by the public as an improvement.
Update: That $2.2 trillion in savings promised at the photo-op? Try $215 billion.
Update x2: The “comparative effectiveness research” Obama already tried to get in the stimulus bill is already killing patients in Britain.