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Obama's 2010 Health Budget Targets Reforms

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday outlined provisions of President Barack Obama's 2010 health budget that target cutting costs, improving quality of care and rooting out waste and fraud in the Medicare system.

Overall, the proposed budget includes a total of $879 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services in 2010, a $63 billion increase over the agency's 2009 budget. The budget establishes a $635 billion health care reserve fund over 10 years, funded by new revenue and savings from Medicare and Medicaid, to finance the reforms and assure health care coverage for all Americans, Sebelius said in a news release from her agency. To improve public safety, the new budget also sets aside $584 million to prepare for and combat pandemic flu and fund increases for the Food and Drug Administration to help ensure the safety of food and medicine.

"We estimate that for every $1 we spend to stop fraud in the system, we save $1.55," Sebelius said in the new release. "The President's budget lays out funding for anti-fraud efforts over five years that we estimate could save $2.7 billion by improving overall oversight and stopping fraud and abuse within the Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug programs."

Other highlights in the health care budget include $4 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS) to expand health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives; $330 million to fund education programs to address the shortage of health care providers in underserved areas; $73 million for improving rural health care initiatives; and $354 million to help combat health care disparities of racial and ethnic minorities and low-income and disadvantaged populations.

The FDA would also receive an additional $511 million, with $259 million earmarked for food safety efforts, increasing the number of inspectors by about 20 percent, as well as helping fund domestic surveillance, laboratory capacity, and response to and control of food-borne illness.

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