Obama Highlights Health Care Reform Progress in Weekly Address
In his weekly radio and Internet address, President Obama discussed efforts by congressional leaders and health care industry groups on health care reform legislation, The Hill reports. He said that "while there remains a great deal of difficult work ahead, I am heartened by what we have seen these past few days: a willingness of those with different points of view and disparate interests to come together around common goals -- to embrace a shared sense of responsibility and make historic progress" (Youngman, The Hill, 5/16).
He said, "I have always believed that it is better to talk than not to talk, that it is far more productive to reach over a divide than to shake your fist across it," which has "been an alien notion in Washington for far too long, but we are seeing that the ways of Washington are beginning to change."
In the Republican radio and Internet address. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a cardiovascular surgeon, said that a "government takeover of health care will put bureaucrats in charge of health care decisions that should be made by families and doctors." He added, "It will limit treatment options and lead to rationed care," and "to pay for government health care, your taxes will be raised." Boustany, a member of the House Republican Health Care Solutions Group, said, "That is something we cannot support, and frankly, it would clearly violate some of the principles the president himself has endorsed" (Superville, AP/Washington Post, 5/16).
In related news, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag on Sunday said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the administration might support taxing health care benefits to health pay for health care reform (Barr, Politico, 5/17).
As "Congress barrels toward a jam-packed summer with a daunting to-do list and limited time before the 2010 elections limit legislating, Democrats will soon have to jettison some priorities," CongressDaily reports. Democratic Senate aides suggest that they need only a few weeks of floor time for health care reform, as it is a top priority for the summer, but "those timelines assume GOP cooperation," according to CongressDaily (House/Friedman, CongressDaily, 5/18).
The Democratic Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrat Coalition on Thursday met separately with House leaders to warn against introducing health care reform legislation that is too progressive, Politico reports. The groups, which together represent 122 of the 218 votes needed to pass legislation, are wary of being forced to fall in line with party leadership in supporting a more liberal bill to counteract the expected moderate bill coming from the Senate.
Both groups voiced concern over a public plan option, a proposal that the House committee chairs charged with writing health reform legislation say is key to bringing down costs. The groups said that they would support a public option so long as it pays for itself and operates under the same principles as the private insurance market (Frates, Politico, 5/15). Video of Obama's address is available online.