The Spectacle Blog

The Mystery of the $2 Trillion in Health Care Savings

By on 5.11.09 | 2:58PM

Kathy Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, just held a conference call with reporters in which I hoped to learn more details about how the health care industry plans to save $2 trillion in projected health care costs over ten years.

In her opening remarks, Sebelius struck the same boastful tone that President Obama did in his appearance earlier.

"This is not just a photo op and a meeting today, but the beginning of a collaborative partnership that can transform the health care system," she said.

But when it came time for questions, she could offer little in the way of details about the so-called savings.

One reporter wanted to know what the pharmaceutical industry would do to contain the rising cost of prescription drugs.

"Well actually today was not an opportunity to talk to each of the groups in the room about their specific plans, but what I can tell you is that they were all urged to and made a commitment to put together a very specific list and to report back," Sebelius said. "We didn’t have time at this morning's meeting to go around and get the top three or four things they're each going to do."

And later in the call, another reporter asked what would specifically need to happen for families to save $2,500 on their health care costs, a claim being touted by the administration.

"Well the discussion today was if we were able to achieve the significant success that the stakeholders today felt was very achievable, we're talking about cutting 1.5 percent out of the rising cost of health care, about $2 trillion over the next decade," Sebelius explained. "So, that would achieve the kind of individualized savings of $2,500 per family."

That's like saying, if I had a million dollars I'd be a millionaire.

The Obama administration continues to demonstrate its mastery of what Daniel J. Boorstin once called the pseudo event.

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