Recently, a collection of industry groups came to Washington for a meeting and photo-op with the president. News headlines trumpeted their pledge to save $2 trillion over the next decade — headlines that were not surprising given that President Obama said, “over the next 10 years — from 2010 to 2019 — they are pledging to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage point each year — an amount that’s equal to over $2 trillion. Two trillion dollars.”
Turns out that’s not what the groups said at all. In their letter to Obama, they promised to “do our part to achieve your Administration’s goal of decreasing by 1.5 percentage points annual health-care spending growth rate — saving $2 trillion or more.” Of course, their part of that savings may be significantly less than the full $2 trillion. The groups offered no further specifics. And, anyway, there would be no way to enforce such a hazy commitment. The administration, I’m told, understood this, but the president and others apparently chose to convey a much more optimistic message.