White House Aims to Slice Nation's Health Bill in Half

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON told key senators this week that the White House health-care reform plan aims to hold the nation's health-care bill to half what it would be in a few years if no changes are made.

Mrs. Clinton said the long-range goal is to hold health costs to 10 percent of gross national product, about half the 20 percent of the gross national product that many economists expect health costs will consume by the end of the decade if no reforms are made. Currently, health costs are 14 percent of GNP - above $800 billion a year.

Sen. Dave Durenberger, a Minnesota Republican, told reporters Mrs. Clinton made the prediction at a two-hour meeting with members of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee.

Senator Durenberger predicted that the 10 percent of GNP for health costs could be reached within 10 years, based on success Minnesota has had in controlling costs. He also noted that a lower rate of growth would greatly help the budget deficit. Committee chairman Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts noted that the cost of the health-care package should be considered in light of the cost of doing nothing to change the current system.

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