In his fiscal 2011 budget proposal to Congress this morning, President Obama focused mostly on the need to bolster the economy. Can the economy be improved -- in either the short or the long term -- without also reforming the nation's health care system? How closely are they related, and what and how much needs to be done on health care to positively affect the economy?
Here is what Obama wrote in his budget proposal:
"Because even the best-trained workers in the world can't compete if our businesses are saddled with rapidly increasing health-care costs, we're fighting to reform our Nation's broken health insurance system and relieve this unsustainable burden. My Budget includes funds to lay the groundwork for these reforms -- by investing in health information technology, patient-centered research, and prevention and wellness -- as well as to improve the health of the Nation by increasing the number of primary care physicians, protecting the safety of our food and drugs, and investing in critical biomedical research."
According to the budget document, Obama is supporting expansions of patient-centered health research "to give patients and physicians the best available information on what treatments will work the best for them; supporting investments in health information technology; expanding prevention and wellness activities; and launching payment reform demonstration programs in Medicare." He proposes $290 million for centers that would expand health care to the medically underserved.
What is the proper mix of work on the economy and health care this year?
Also, what policy proposals in Obama's health reform budget do you find interesting, disturbing or missing? The president's full proposal can be found here. The specific proposals for the Department of Health and Human Services are on pages 77-83 of the PDF.