Congress uses talking points on health reform during Memorial Day recess
Democrats and Republicans are using talking points they got from House and Senate leadership this week to buttress support for or against health care reform during a week-long Memorial Day recess, Politico reports.
"The House Republican Conference and the House GOP health care task force sent their members home with talking points on health care, as did congressional Democratic leadership and Democratic strategist Paul Begala, who distributed a memo aimed at countering GOP opposition," according to Politico. Republicans' talking points focus on criticizing the Democratic plan as delaying treatment, raising taxes and rationing care while Democratic talking points call for referring to Republican blockades as defending a broken status quo.
"Meanwhile, advocacy groups are organizing town halls, marches and roundtables. Health Care for America Now, a liberal advocacy group, is running a 60-second TV ad in Maine targeting Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who are considered swing votes," Politico reports. Other groups running ads and advocating for or against the change include the AARP, the Service Employees International Union and America's Health Insurance Plans (Budoff Brown, 5/26).
The Hill also details some of the memos distributed to Senators and members of Congress to address health care reform questions back home. "Recess packets and interviews with members of the majority party carry the same message: The party has made tough decisions to 'put our country back on the path to prosperity,' but more 'investments' are needed to reform the country's ailing health care system," The Hill reports.
Similar to the talking points distributed to House Democrats, Senate Democrats are urged to "reassure constituents" that they will will improve the system while preserving choice: "'We cannot delay this discussion any longer,' reads the message to Senate Democrats. 'Health care reform is no longer just a moral imperative, it is a fiscal imperative. If we want to create jobs and rebuild our economy, then we must address the crushing cost of health care this year,'" The Hill reports (Rushing and Alarkon 5/23).
The White House, in the meantime, has asked health care industry leaders to come up with real cost-saving measures to make good on their promise to slow rising costs, "helping to save the nation $2 trillion over 10 years," The Associated Press reports. "Experts say the savings are possible - in theory. The problem is getting doctors, hospitals and other medical providers to change years of ingrained habits that lead to much of the wasteful spending in U.S. health care," the AP reports.
The homework - so-called by the White House and even industry itself - aims to decrease costs 1.5 percentage points per year for 10 years and is due in early June, the AP reports. Among the measures that could be considered are reducing administrative costs by providing an Internet clearing house to handle claims, industry-wide standards for treatments including drug interactions and reducing readmissions to hospitals (Alonso-Zaldivar, 5/26).
President Obama told CSPAN in an interviewed that aired on Saturday that "the stars may be aligned" on a health care bill this year, even if it will be difficult to get legislation through Congress, the Associated Press reported. "Obama says changing the health care system will cost a lot of money upfront - but in the long run end up saving lots of money," the AP reports (5/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.