Talking Health on CNBC

When I worked for the White House, I discovered that you could learn a lot about your co-workers — or, at least, their portfolios — by their TV habits. Some people watched CNBC, some Fox, and some CNN. And some even managed to get through the work day without turning their TVs on.

I have always been firmly in the CNBC contingent, so I was particularly happy to appear on Squawk Box this morning. Here’s a link to a video of the interview (sorry, I still haven’t mastered the embedding of videos from news sites.)

Going in, my main talking points on the health debate were:

  • From a budget perspective, the Baucus bill is much better than the House bill. As Chairman Baucus has said, his bill would increase spending by more than $800 billion over the next ten years. On a comparable basis, the House bill would increase spending by more than $1.5 trillion. That’s a huge difference.
  • My biggest budget concern about the Baucus bill involves the offsets he proposes to pay for those increased costs. Some of those offsets presume that we can make substantial future cuts to payment rates for various Medicare providers. The trillion-dollar question is whether we will actually have the backbone to make those cuts when the time comes. Our recent experiences with doctor payments in Medicare should give us all pause on that front. In addition, there’s the hard question of whether we should be using the “easy” offsets to address our existing fiscal crisis instead.