Meeting at the White House

July 21, 2009

This morning President Obama said that he had met with the Congressional Budget Office regarding cost savings in health reform legislation. A number of people have asked me what happened, so heres the story:

I was invited to the White House to meet with the President, his key budget and health advisers, and some outside experts. The President asked me and the outside experts for our views about achieving cost savings in health reform. I presented CBOs assessment of the challenges of reducing federal health outlays and improving the long-term budget outlook while simultaneously expanding health insurance coveragejust as we had explained these challenges in a letter to Senator Conrad and Senator Gregg last month. I also described CBOs view of the effects of the health legislation we have seen so far, as I did last Thursday in a hearing at the Senate Budget Committee and a mark-up at the House Ways and Means Committee. In addition, I discussed various policy options that could produce budgetary savings in the long run, drawing on CBOs Budget Options for Health Care released in December, our letter to Senators Conrad and Gregg last month, and my comments last Thursday. Other participants in the meeting expressed their own views on these various topics.

People have asked whether it was exciting to meet the President and be in the Oval Office: Yes, and my kids will be jealous when they get back from summer camp and hear about it. Of course, the setting of the conversation and the nature of the participants do not affect CBOs analysis of health reform legislation. We will continue to work with Members of Congress and their staffs, on both sides of the aisle, to provide cost estimates and other information as health reform legislation is considered.