Obama Proposes Bipartisan Health Care Summit

While it is important that health care reform be passed, I have been hoping for an alternative to ramming through the Senate bill, at least before more is done to explain the actual legislation to the public. It would be unfortunate if the political result of health care reform was to lead to the election of more Republicans who are hostile to health care programs.

Many people seemed to see the slow down in action after the loss in Massachusetts as a sign that the Democrats had given up on health care reform. I thought it was more plausible that they were taking a little time to reassess their strategy. Now we are beginning to see the results of this as Barack Obama is planning a televised summit on health care for February 25.

It is important at this point that Barack Obama takes the lead. He is more popular than either the Democrats or Republicans in Congress, and we saw that after he spoke out on health care in August that support for reform increased. We also saw how he is able to debunk Republican talking points last week.

Obama is inviting the Republicans to the health care summit. That is an excellent idea. So far they have shown no sign of willingness to offer any serious solutions yet they constantly repeat the same empty statements as if they made some sense. If Republicans are going to continue to do nothing more than obstruct legislation, let the voters see this.

Let the Republicans suggest that we open sales of insurance across state lines on television. Obama can explain that this is included in the health care reform proposals–but this can only be done if there are nation-wide regulations to protect consumers. Obama could go on to explain that the main reason the Republicans are pushing this for the insurance companies which are calling the shots is that this would allow insurance companies to all operate out of the states with the weakest insurance regulations. This might result in less expensive insurance being sold, but such policies would provide very poor coverage to those who are sick.

The Republicans can also push for malpractice reform. Obama could explain that this would only result in a very small reduction in overall health care costs. However, Obama has previously expressed willingness to consider malpractice reform and, while the potential savings are greatly exaggerated by Republicans, they should not be ignored. Malpractice reform is not possible in a health care bill written by the Congressional Democrats, who represent the interests of the trial lawyers as faithfully as the Republicans represent the  interests of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Perhaps an open, televised health care summit could lead to agreements which get past these partisan differences. There is even a long shot that Republicans would be forced by such open coverage to agree to support a compromise bill which might correct some of the problems in the Senate bill. Even if nothing comes out out of the meeting, it is still of value to discuss these matters openly.

Some on the left have been attacking Obama for trying to appeal to Republicans, claiming it has been a failure because no Congressional Republicans are giving him any support. What they fail to recognize is that seeking bipartisan support does not only refer to members of Congress. It also refers to people who have voted Republican in the past but either voted for Obama in 2008 or are open to voting Democratic in the future. The way to secure these votes is to show a willingness to consider Republican ideas, along with showing their failings if Republicans do not come up with any better ideas than they have to date.

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33 Comments

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    Mill Messenger says:

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    Anonymous says:

    “If Republicans are going to continue to do nothing more than obstruct legislation, let the voters see this.”

    This is the reason why I believe the Dems should make the repubs fiflbuster everything they treaten to. Let the public see and hear why they are against anykind of legislation. The voters need to see whats going on instead of listening to the MSM spew right wing talking points.
    The Dems need to be ready to roll up their sleeves and fight.

    Al Franken would make a great Senate Majority Leader. Harry Reid needs to get tougher.

    I’m so sick and tired of the GOP and their whiney followers. It’s time for the Dems to force it on the people.

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    Joshua Schlinsky says:

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    Janet Hasty says:

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  32. 32
    Wellescent Health Blog says:

    The benefit of the televised  discussion is that if Obama accepts input from the Republicans and then clearly works to include the changes into the bills, the Republicans will be in a hard place to then refuse support of the bill. The key to success in this activity will be that willingness of the Democrats to support other ideas in their quest to reform the health care system.

  33. 33
    Ron Chusid says:

    The Democrats actually have already incorporated a number of Republican ideas into the bill, with the Republicans still voting in unison against the bill.

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