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Who's Zoomin' Who? Insurance Companies Suddenly Change Their Version Of What They Told Obama

Remember Obama's announcement Monday that insurance companies were going to cut the rate of health care spending? It was all over the news: “Thes

Remember Obama's announcement Monday that insurance companies were going to cut the rate of health care spending? It was all over the news:

“These groups are voluntarily coming together to make an unprecedented commitment,” Mr. 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 points each year — an amount that’s equal to over $2 trillion.”

Now they're clutching their pearls, insisting they never said such a thing!

Health care leaders who attended the meeting have a different interpretation. They say they agreed to slow health spending in a more gradual way and did not pledge specific year-by-year cuts.

“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding that has caused a lot of consternation among our members,” said Richard J. Umbdenstock, the president of the American Hospital Association. “I’ve spent the better part of the last three days trying to deal with it.”

Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said “the president misspoke” on Monday and again on Wednesday when he described the industry’s commitment in similar terms. After providing that account, Ms. DeParle called back about an hour later on Thursday and said: “I don’t think the president misspoke. His remarks correctly and accurately described the industry’s commitment.”

The Washington office of the American Hospital Association sent a bulletin to its state and local affiliates to “clarify several points” about the White House meeting.

In the bulletin, Richard J. Pollack, the executive vice president of the hospital association, said: “The A.H.A. did not commit to support the ‘Obama health plan’ or budget. No such reform plan exists at this time.”

Moreover, Mr. Pollack wrote, “The groups did not support reducing the rate of health spending by 1.5 percentage points annually.”

And yet, here's what went up on the lying bastards' industry's faux-grassroots website:

Health care stakeholders came together at the White House today to present ideas on how to lower health care costs and create real savings for American families. President Obama hosted representatives of a group that included AdvaMed, American Hospital Association (AHA), American Medical Association (AMA), America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The six groups submitted a letter to the President outlining a framework for slowing the growth of spending throughout the health care system, making it more efficient and more sustainable. Read the letter that was sent to President Obama.

By reducing the rate of growth in health care spending by 1.5% each year, the nation can achieve a savings of $2 trillion over the next decade. This effort will have a direct effect on the budgets of individuals and families and will also go a long way in ensuring that every American have access to affordable, high-quality health care. Stay tuned for more information on this important initiative in the weeks and months ahead.

Read a complete account of President Obama's remarks at the White House today.

America's Health Insurance Plans released a statement today that expressed strong support for the framework that all the stakeholders have presented. Read the full statement.

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