Government role in health care won't diminish: Summers

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:24pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said on Monday the government's role in providing health care won't likely diminish, so greater efficiencies need to be found in the delivery of care.

Speaking at a chief executives forum sponsored by The Wall Street Journal, he said that with rising health-care costs, the government either had to find efficiencies, new revenues or remove health care from the government's burden.

"I have a feeling that if you look at what's happened with prescription drugs, with children's health insurance, with bipartisan support, that the notion of making health care less of a public responsibility doesn't feel like a direction that our country is likely to go in," he said.

Summers, said to be under consideration to return to the Treasury's top job under President-elect Barack Obama, said the government, as the largest buyer of health care, must find new processes and investments that bring long-term efficiency benefits that are also productive in delivering health care.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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