Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What’s On The Agenda For February 25?

The invitations are out for the February. 25 White House health reform summit at Blair House, but the jockeying has only just begun for what may be the last push for health reform legislation.

What’s on the agenda for the meeting? The White House invitation lists four items:

  • insurance reforms --Does legislation provide adequate protection against abuses by the insurance industry?

  • cost containment --Does legislation bring down costs for all Americans as well as for the federal government, which spends a huge amount on health care?

  • expanding coverage --Does legislation make coverage affordable and available to the tens of millions of working Americans who don't have it right now? and

  • the impact health reform legislation would have on deficit reduction --Does legislation help us get on a path of fiscal sustainability?

Republican leaders have their own ideas about what should be discussed. Additional concerns include the individual mandate, antitrust issues, and the proposed excise tax on high cost health insurance

And finally, the public option has resurfaced. Four Senators have sent a letter to majority leader Sen. Harry Reid (Nev.) asking him to bring for a vote before the full Senate a public health insurance option under budget reconciliation rules.

The letter, originally signed by Sens. Michael Bennet (Col.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), and Sherrod Brown (Ohio), lists four reasons for supporting a public option: its potential for billions of dollars in cost savings; the growing need to increase competition and lower costs for the consumer; the history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation; and the continued public support for a public option.

The senators tell Mr. Reid that "although we strongly support the important reforms made by the Senate-passed health reform package, including a strong public option would improve both its substance and the public’s perception of it. The Senate has an obligation to reform our unworkable health insurance market -- both to reduce costs and to give consumers more choices. A strong public option is the best way to deliver on both of these goals, and we urge its consideration under reconciliation rules."

Four additional senators and 119 members of the House of Representatives have indicated their support of a public option. At least one supporter, Rep. George Miller (Cal.), Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, is invited to the February 25 summit.

I’ll be watching.  Will you?


Post a Comment