I responded to the industry's promise with deep skepticism. Apparently, industry leaders are now skeptical as well. In fact, they deny even making such a promise.
According to the New York Times, industry leaders say that Obama "substantially overstated" their position on cost reductions. Rather than committing to specific reductions on an annual basis, industry leaders say they generally support squeezing costs to attain an overall reduction in the annual growth of health-related expenses. But they view the 10-year period that Obama described as a "target" rather than a firm commitment. They also resist the notion that they agreed to any concrete annual reductions in costs.
The White House has offered conflicting responses to the industry's recollection of the agreement:
Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said “the president misspoke”. . . when he described the industry’s commitment . . . After providing that account, Ms. DeParle called back about an hour later . . . and said: “I don’t think the president misspoke. His remarks correctly and accurately described the industry’s commitment.”The article also reports that many industry leaders are "leery" of mandated cost reductions. Perhaps this means they are leery of cost reductions altogether. Many analysts do not believe that a meaningful decline in health care expenses will occur unless the reform package includes specific policies, such as a reduction in medical reimbursements, that lower costs. I concur.
White House Budget Director Peter Orszag has published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that reiterates the President's statement that the health care industry has committed to the disputed promises.