Pelosi: We'll ‘Squeeze’ Medicare to Pay for Health Care Bill

By Matt Cover | September 10, 2009 | 3:29 PM EDT

( - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said today that Congress will pay for half of the $1 trillion health care reform  bill that President Obama wants enacted by “squeezing” Medicare and Medicaid to wring out what she called “waste, fraud, abuse, redundancy, obsolescence and whatever it is.”
Pelosi was asked at her weekly press briefing if she agreed with President Obama that much of the health care reform plan can be paid for by cutting Medicare and Medicaid.
“Half the bill will be paid for by squeezing excesses out of the [Medicare and Medicaid] system, and there is $500 billion dollars to do that and we’re looking for more,” Pelosi said. “That can be achieved--waste, fraud, abuse, redundancy, obsolescence, whatever it is. Squeeze it out of the system; and that means out of the providers and the rest as well.”

Pelosi said that “less than half” of the cost of the health care reform plan would be covered by what she called “pay-fors.”
“This bill will cost under a trillion dollars over ten years, but half of it will be paid for by cuts, will be taken care of by cuts,” she said. “Less than half of it will be in finding other pay-fors for it.”
“Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan,” Obama said in his speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.

Medicare is the federal-government-run health insurance program for Americans age 65 or older. Medicaid is a health care program for certain low-income persons that is funded by both the federal and state governments.