Monday, March 16, 2009

Obama’s Health Plan Challenged by Senate Budget Chief

Obama’s Health Plan Challenged by Senate Budget Chief;

President Barack Obama’s proposal for spending $634 billion on revamping U.S. health care threatens to expand a “bloated” system, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said.

“This is an area that gives many of us great pause, because we are already spending one in every six dollars in this economy on health care,” Senator Kent Conrad, the committee chairman and a North Dakota Democrat, said today at a hearing today of his committee.

Obama presented a budget plan to Congress last month seeking $634 billion over 10 years to begin to provide everyone in the U.S. affordable health coverage. Republican lawmakers have attacked the proposal for adding money to an already-costly medical system just as the U.S. is trying to pull itself out of a recession. Conrad made clear Democrats share the concerns.

“We’ve already got a bloated system,” Conrad said at today’s hearing, where Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testified about the administration’s spending blueprint for U.S. departments and agencies.

Obama has said that covering everyone and bringing down medical costs are necessary to strengthen the economy. He also has said more money will be needed to finish the job, leaving the specific changes to Congress. Health economists estimate the cost of covering everyone in the U.S. would be at least $1 trillion over 10 years.

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