President Obama has proposed covering the costs of his new medical plan with "smarter" medicine, meaning the adoption of procedures that eliminate inefficiencies and stress prevention. At a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on August 11, 2009, he gave the example of a diabetic needing to have a foot amputated, at a cost of $30,000 to $50,000. It would have been smarter to counsel the patient on diet and weight loss and monitor his medications before amputation was required. The insurance company would have saved money and the patient would have saved a foot.
The 2008 Obama/Biden Plan for a Healthy America also stressed preventive approaches to disease, including the reduction of toxins to which the body is exposed; and chief among these toxins was mercury. The Plan stated as a fundamental goal:
"Reduce Risks of Mercury Pollution. More than five million women of childbearing age have high levels of toxic mercury in their blood, and approximately 630,000 newborns are born at risk every year. The EPA estimates that every year, more than one in six children could be at risk for developmental disorders because of mercury exposure in the mother's womb."
As a Senator, Obama was responsible for extensive legislation reducing environmental exposure to mercury, including a ban on the export of elemental mercury, and legislation to phase out the use of mercury in the manufacture of chlorine.