Can you say rationing of health care?

This is from an interview on Meet the Press this morning.

Lawrence Summers: . . . . And the steps, whether it's on the programs, whether it's by taking care of--by addressing health care spending with the most ambitious program of health care cost-cutting in a very long time, whether it's collecting taxes that are owed but not paid, that focus on taking the debt burden off of our children is very much there.

MR. GREGORY: All right, well, you talk about transparency, and you just brought up the issue of, of a health care program. What the president is proposing is a universal health care program that won't increase the deficit, and yet the projections are that this is a program that would cost at least a trillion dollars. Where will the money come from to fund such an ambitious program without impacting the deficit?

Lawrence Summers: . . . . But the really important issue for the long run, David, is changing the way in which we deliver health care in this country. You know, there have been a whole set of studies done, they look at health care, the frequency of different procedures, whether it's tonsillectomies or hysterectomies in different parts of the country, and what you see is that in some parts of the country procedures are done three times as frequently and there's no benefit in terms of the health of the population. And by doing the right kind of cost-effectiveness, by making the right kinds of investments and protection, some experts that we--estimate that we could take as much as $700 billion a year out of our health care system. Now, we wouldn't have to do anything like that, we wouldn't have to do a third of that in order to pay for a very aggressive program of increased coverage. And so really the president and OMB director Orszag have identified a number of items that they call the game changers: prevention, cost-effectiveness, research, doing a better job on, on reimbursements. . . . .

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