Quiet Health Reform Consensus Begins to Form
As the Obama administration and congressional Democrats rev up for the sprint to pass health care reform legislation, "Democrats and Republicans find a surprising level of agreement so much so that the broad outlines of a consensus plan already are taking shape," Politico reports.
Politico lists the elements of that consensus plan as including: Near-universal coverage; an insurance exchange that would "make finding a plan as easy as shopping for cheap airfare;" higher taxes, possibly on employer-sponsored benefits; and mandates or incentives to buy coverage. Meanwhile, the most contentious sticking points include whether a possible mandate would include penalties for people who don't buy coverage and whether a new, public insurance plan would be created.
"It's hard to believe that only three months ago, health care advocates worried that President Barack Obama would drop the health reform issue from his first-year agenda," Politico reports. "Now, with an August deadline to pass a bill, a compromise that once seemed unimaginable is considered quite possible, both sides say" (Brown, 5/1).
In fact, health reform is so high the White House agenda that it may obscure efforts to drive other legislation. "The White House is privately reinforcing to Capitol Hill that health care reform is its immediate and top priority, prompting new questions about the timing and future of climate change legislation," Roll Call reports. A White House official left congressional staffers with the impression that cap-and-trade energy legislation should be delayed in favor of addressing health care reform at a private meeting last week. But, the official later told Roll Call, "I said health care is a priority and energy is moving also" (Dennis, 6/2).