Obama creates health reform office

President Barack Obama issued an executive order today to create a White House Office of Health Reform to foster access by all Americans to affordable and high-quality health care.

Obama has repeatedly said that reforming health care is a priority of his administration. The president requested $630 billion over 10 years as a down payment for health care reform in his fiscal 2010 budget blueprint released in February.

The office would reside within the Executive Office of the President and provide leadership in establishing policies and priorities for federal efforts to improve access to health care, the quality of care and the sustainability of the health care system, the order states.

“The health care system suffers from serious and pervasive problems; access to health care is constrained by high and rising costs; and the quality of care is not consistent and must be improved in order to improve the health of our citizens and our economic security,” Obama said in the executive order.

The Health and Human Services Department's secretary would also establish a health reform office, which would coordinate closely with the White House office, the order states. In addition, each agency would designate a representative to work with the administration's health reform director.

Among its functions, the White House office would:

  • Organize the development of the administration's policy agenda across the federal government, including coordinating policy development with the Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, Council of Economic Advisers, Office of Management and Budget, HHS, and Office of Personnel Management.
  • Integrate the president's health reform policy across agencies.
  • Coordinate agencies’ outreach activities to gather public input from demonstration and pilot projects and from public/private partnerships on the priorities for improving health care.
  • Work with Congress and agencies to eliminate unnecessary legislative, regulatory and other bureaucratic barriers that impede delivery of efficient and high-quality health care.
  • Monitor implementation of the president's agenda for health care reform.
OMB Director Peter Orszag said that estimates indicate that as much as $700 billion is spent annually on health care that cannot be linked to improved outcomes.

“A key objective of health care reform must therefore be to align incentives toward better care,” OMB's blog states.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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