Thursday, February 19, 2009

Health Care is a Priority for OMB Director Peter Orszag

Here's some very good news about what could be in store from the Obama administration.

Peter Orszag, the director of Obama's Office of Management and Budget, was seen as a key figure in negotiating the bailout compromise. Known as an academic, Washington insiders were surprised by how effective he was. But the most exciting about Peter Orszag is that he is dedicated to health care reform. From Ben Smith's Budget to kick off health care:

And the bill spends more than $1 billion on Orszag's pet cause, research on the effectiveness of medical practices, which he sees as an opening to reforming American health care through sheer analytical will.

So we're already getting the benefit of his expertise and interest in health care. And apparently there is more to come:

He's signaling that the moves in the stimulus package are just a hint of what's to come in a budget that will begin in earnest the arduous process of health care reform.

"What has already been accomplished is a huge start toward a more efficient [health care] system, and I think you're going to see more in the budget next week," he told Politico.

Even more promising is his view of health care, Social Security, Medicare, and budget priorities:

Orszag's other key agenda item next week will be an effort to change the debate on Medicare and Social Security.

Orszag's long-running project -- something that has made him the left's favorite Cabinet member -- has been replacing talk of an "entitlement crisis" with his argument that Social Security requires only modest tax hikes and benefit cuts, while Medicare and Medicaid have much more dramatic fiscal woes.

"Social Security faces an actuarial deficit over the next 75-100 years. In the past, I've resisted the term `crisis' to describe that kind of situation," he said. "This is not quantitatively as important as getting health care done."

Hooray! Orszag doesn't just understand the number crunching, he understands the importance of framing the debate in the proper terms in order to control the dialog and push forth an agenda. Health care is my number one issue this is exactly what I'm hoping for in the Obama administration. I have very high hopes for what can be accomplished with Orszag running the OMB.


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