Jan 16

Past Event

Memo to the President: Reform Health Care

Event Materials



  • Henry Aaron

    Aaron says health care reform is an imperative and that the multi-billion dollar cost of reform and other such obstacles can no longer be a deterrent.

    Henry J. Aaron

  • Alice Rivlin

    Rivlin feels the Obama administration should tackle health care reform early on and adds that a new agency with oversight on every facet of reforming health care needs to be established.

    Alice M. Rivlin

  • Chris Jennings

    Jennings says a comprehensive approach to health care reform is preferable to a policy of incremental steps.


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Almost 50 million Americans are uninsured, the cost of public and private health insurance is rising and the quality of care is uneven at best. The time seems ripe for significant health care reform, and even before taking office the Obama transition team has sponsored 8,500 small public meetings across the country to gather input. But given the other pressing crises facing the president-elect—and the repeated failures of past reform efforts—should he seek total health system reform, or start with step-by-step measures?

On January 16, Henry Aaron, senior fellow at Brookings, offered a public memo to President-elect Obama with recommendations on how to deal with the challenges that will confront him in reforming health care. The memo is the twelfth of 12 Brookings memos on the most crucial public policy priorities facing the new president.

A distinguished panel included Aaron; Chris Jennings, former senior health care advisor to William J. Clinton and president of Jennings Policy Strategies; and Senior Fellow Alice Rivlin. Susan Dentzer, editor of Health Affairs, moderated the discussion. After the program, panelists took audience questions.

Event Agenda


January 16, 2009

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM EST

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105