Obama’s Turn To Retake Lead On Health Reform Nears
President Obama's turn to step to the lead regarding the shape of health reform legislation is quickly approaching.
The Washington Post: "For many months, advocates of health-care reform have implored President Obama to outline in greater detail the provisions he's prepared to push and defend. So far, he has largely resisted, offering broad principles and leaving the details to Congress. But the time of hanging back is quickly coming to an end if he hopes to find the 60 votes needed to pass a bill in the Senate." Once the Finance measure is completed and "Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) begins trying to meld [it] together ... with a more liberal version approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee" Obama will have more "to adjudicate" (Balz, 9/30).
Roll Call reports that Obama is drafting a fallback plan: "The White House has been secretly drafting its own health care legislation that it may unveil at some point during the debate if officials believe it would help secure passage of a bill, according to sources familiar with the effort. Sources differed on how far the process has gotten, with some saying a bill is basically finished and others saying they are aware only of a partially completed effort. White House officials, though they know their preferences, also appear to be constructing different options that could be thrown together depending on how the legislation is shaping up in Congress" (Koffler, 9/30).
The issues in play also go beyond the public plan.
NPR reports on White House reform strategy with pharmaceutical companies and hospitals: "But not every Democrat is on board. In the House, many members of the president's own party think the White House sold out - cheap - to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a trade group that represents pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, when it agreed to accept just $80 billion in drug rebates to low-income seniors. There is a spirited debate inside the Democratic Party about who co-opted whom in the special interest health care deals. But many supporters of a health care overhaul believe that without these side agreements, the health care effort would have been mortally wounded by the town hall rebellion in August" (Liasson, 9/30).
And in other news, Obama is making an announcement this morning at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., that $5 billion in grants have been given through the NIH to support cancer research and to create jobs, The Associated Press reports (9/30).