This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

care reform was a big subject this week at the White House. 

President Obama held
a series of meetings, including with Democratic leaders from the House of Representatives.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to bring legislation to the full House by the end
of July. 

The Senate must also act. The president wants to sign a bill into law
by the end of the year.

On Monday he got support from leaders of six groups in
the health care industry. These represent doctors, hospitals, insurance
companies, medical suppliers, union members and others.

A doctor treats a patient at a hospital in Fargo, North Dakota
A doctor treats a patient at a hospital in Fargo, North Dakota

promised to do their part to cut the growth rate in health spending by one and
a half percentage points a year. The savings over ten years could amount to two
trillion dollars.

industry leaders opposed reform efforts in the past. But health spending has
rocketed over the past generation to about seventeen percent of the economy.
President Obama says Americans spend more than any other nation yet the system
is broken. 

BARACK OBAMA: “At the rate we’re going, we are
expected to spend one-fifth of our economy on health care within a decade. And
yet we’re getting less for our money.”

main way that the federal government pays for health care is by insuring older
people through the Medicare program. But health costs are increasing at an
average of about six percent a year — far ahead of inflation.

a new report this week showed that the recession is also affecting Medicare. The
program may no longer be able to pay all its hospital bills by two thousand
seventeen. That is two years earlier than last year’s prediction.

Another report showed that the Social Security trust fund
is expected to be out of money by two thousand thirty-seven. That is four years
earlier than predicted last year. Loss of the trust fund could reduce payments
to future retirees.

The last major effort to reform health
care failed in the early nineties. During last year’s campaign Barack Obama offered
ways to control health costs and expand coverage to all Americans. Almost
forty-six million have no health insurance at all.  

Unlike Bill Clinton, the new president has left the
details of forming a plan to Congress. But lawmakers have yet to find common
ground on how to pay for it.

say the idea for a new public health plan to cover millions of the uninsured
would hurt the private health care market. And they say it would only increase budget
deficits that are already high. But the president says health care costs have
put the federal budget on a “disastrous path.”

that’s the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. I’m Steve