Thursday the 25th is an important day for health reform. The President threw down a gauntlet to Congress: Stop complaining, stop the pork, and come up with a health plan for the USA. Meanwhile, the White House and congressional leaders are preparing a detailed health care proposal designed to win passage without Republican support if GOP lawmakers fail to embrace bipartisan compromises at President Barack Obama’s February 25th summit. Democratic negotiators are resolving final differences in House and Senate health bills that passed last year with virtually no Republican help. The White House plans to post the proposals online by Monday morning, three days ahead of the Feb. 25 summit, which GOP leaders are approaching warily.
The Thursday meeting, to be held at Blair House in Washington, DC, will begin at 10:00 a.m, and will be televised live in its entirety. This will include a discussion, moderated by the President, on four topics needed in health reform legislation:
Insurance reforms — “Will it provide adequate protection against abuses by the insurance industry?”
Cost containment — “Will it bring down costs for all Americans as well as for the Federal Government?”
Expanding coverage — “Will it make coverage affordable and available to the tens of millions of working Americans who don’t have it?”
Cost containment — “Will it help us get on a path of fiscal sustainability?”
MOREOVER, the public option is NOT dead! House Majority Whip, Rep. James Clyburn (D. SC) suggests that it could still be inserted into the final bill….And Harry Reid just announced he will work to put a public option into reconciliation if a decision is made to do so (presumably by the White House).
If these and other unresolved issues can be agreed upon in the next three or four days, the Democrats have a powerful tool to use in their televised health reform discussion on Thursday. Perhaps what the President is trying to do with this February 25th meeting is to tell us all that he has listened to the Republicans. He has incorporated some of their ideas, but he is not waiting for them to sign on to the Democrats’ plan. If they won’t, Democrats need to take a public vote on health reform. Vote it up or down, but don’t let it just die.