Congress dropped the health care reform ball… will the President pick it up and run with it?
Time.com’s Karen Tumulty reports that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, when asked if the White House is preparing it’s own health care plan for next week’s summit, replied “Stay tuned.”
Ms. Tumulty went on to say: “One official told me that a White House measure is likely to look very much like the Senate bill, with a few changes: It would be stripped of some of the controversial special deals, such as the now-infamous “Cornhusker Kickback,” and there would be instead a more equitable provision to help states deal with their increased Medicaid costs. There would also likely be some kind of revision (and probable retrenchment) on the deal that was struck with the unions on the ‘Cadillac Tax.’”
With the Democrats’ loss of a senate seat in Massachusetts, negotiations on the House and Senate bills ground to a virtual halt. The odds of a unified bill before the summit appear slim. Earlier this week, in a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Democrats made the case for avoiding a filibuster by passing the public option through the process of reconciliation.
What remains to be seen is if a White House bill, should it be forthcoming, would have any teeth at all, or if reform will be further diluted in an attempt to win some Republican support. It most certainly would include provisions to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but is unlikely to include the controversial public option.
The Associated Press reported today that the White House and congressional leaders are working together to prepare a detailed health care proposal that is to be posted online prior to the February 25 summit.
Kaiser Health News reports that a Zogby/University of Texas Health Science Center poll that found a majority of Americans polled think Congressional leaders should start the whole thing over with a clean slate.
Whether the White House comes up with an entirely new plan or works with Congress to reconcile the House and Senate bills, is less important than the business of getting an estimated 30 million uninsured Americans access to health care, ending denial of coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and reducing costs.
Republican leaders have been invited — again — to share their ideas and submit their own proposals for reforming a health care system that is spiraling toward disaster.
If Congressional leaders, both Democrat and Republican, will work with the White House in an effort to do the right thing for the country… well, let’s not hold our collective breath. But do stay tuned.