Some Dems Say Single Health Reform Bill Is Close, GOP Settles On Summit Strategy
News outlets report on party politics in advance of the president's health care summit.
Bloomberg: "House Democrats said their party may not be able to offer a single health-care proposal at the Feb. 25 meeting President Barack Obama has called with a challenge to Republicans to present their alternative. Obama has promised to 'post online the text of a proposed health-insurance package' in advance of the televised meeting." But congressional Democrats are still "reconciling differences" between the House and Senate bills (Rowley, 2/18).
The Washington Times: House Democrats, who held a conference call with reporters Wednesday, "also won't disclose how (an agreement) deals with flash points that helped stall the effort, such as how to prevent taxpayer funding of abortions, whether to include a public insurance option and how to pay for it." Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., did say that the two chambers have made progress "in coordination with the White House" (Haberkorn, 2/18).
Roll Call: "there has been little evidence that the House and Senate are 'very close' or that the talk of bipartisanship is anything more than just talk. It's not clear that an excise tax deal on health insurance cut with unions before the Massachusetts special election that gave GOP Senators 41 seats has the votes in the House" and a number of other items also are unresolved. "Among them: how to deal with abortion and immigration; the levels of subsidies for buying insurance; the employer and individual mandates; and national exchanges vs. state exchanges" (Dennis, 2/17).
U.S. News & World Report: "What [the summit] could do is give Americans their clearest look so far at Republicans' ideas for changing healthcare. For all the chatter, most of what's known about Republican ideas still comes from two places: a thin proposal filed by GOP leaders last fall and Sen. John McCain's platform from the 2008 presidential campaign" (Garber, 2/17).
CongressDaily: House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana sent a memo this week to rank-and-file Republicans that "members underscore at public appearances this recess week that 'the American people do not want a government takeover of health care,' and that it is time to pursue 'step-by-step approach that will reduce costs and win bipartisan support'" (House, 2/17).
Meanwhile, a letter asking Senate Majority Harry Reid , D-Nev., to put a public insurance option in a reconciliation bill has picked up more signatures.
The Hill: Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders added his name yesterday. "Sanders is a self-described 'democratic socialist' who favors a single-payer healthcare system but has supported the public option throughout the healthcare debate. Four senators, (Colo. Sen. Michael) Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), originally signed the letter to Reid Tuesday. Sanders follows Democratic Sens. Al Franken (Minn.), Pat Leahy (Vt.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) who signed on to the letter Wednesday morning" (Fabian, 2/17).
Politico's Live Pulse blog reports Sen. Dianne Feinstein also signed the letter Wednesday (Raju and Frates, 2/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.