Administration Faces Challenges From Democrats On Health Proposals
President Obama has asked Congress to deliver a bill by October that would "cut healthcare costs and provide medical coverage to most of the 46 million uninsured Americans," a goal that may no longer be realistic as members of the president's own party move to stall efforts, the Reuters/The Washington Post reports (Allen, 7/9).
Amid the difficulty of cutting health care costs and quickly driving reform through the legislative process, Obama also appears to have reneged on a campaign pledge to conduct negotiations in public view, McClatchy reports. "Campaigning for president, Barack Obama said repeatedly that any overhaul of the health care system should be negotiated publicly and televised for all to see. Throughout this year's negotiations, however, the big deals have been struck in secret." McClatchy reports that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, traveling with Obama in L'Aquila, Italy, said Thursday that "this president has demonstrated more transparency than any president." He said that Obama had participated in multiple town-hall meetings with doctors, nurses and providers to discuss revamping health care. ... I don't think the president intimated that every decision putting together a health care bill would be on public TV" (Lightman and Talev, 7/9).
As dissent brewed among congressional Democrats this week, Obama's political organization, Organizing for America, began "a door-to-door campaign to drum up popular backing for President Barack Obama' health care overhaul effort," Roll Call reports (Koffler, 7/9).
Leading Democrats have also been speaking up in ways that sometimes contradict the Obama administration's line.
Vermont Press Bureau/Times Argus reports: "There is no point in doing health care reform unless you have a public option people can choose from. I think it is a waste of time and money to do it," Howard Dean, the Democratic Party's former chairman, and a medical doctor. While Obama has advocated for the public option, a government-run insurance plan, he has been careful to say that such proposals are negotiable, along with nearly everything else in his plan (Porter, 7/10).
Politico reports: "Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Wednesday that White House officials told him they don't feel obligated to live up to the terms of a deal designed to find $80 billion in savings and signed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug makers' lobby," referring to an agreement negotiated by the White House and top Senators. The White House had to backtrack yesterday, saying, "We are absolutely part of these agreements and bound by them" (Frates, 7/9).