The President’s Health Summit Invite To Lawmakers: ‘Bring Comprehensive Legislation’
Late Friday, the White House issued formal invitations to the president's health care summit Feb. 25.
The Washington Post: "In a letter to lawmakers, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the half-day meeting at Blair House would include the top Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and the ranking members in committees that deal with health care. Outlining the format for a session some Republicans have derided as little more than political theater, the Obama advisers said both parties would be allowed to invite four other members each to the discussion, to begin at 10 a.m. and be televised live" (Shear, 2/13).
Bloomberg: "Obama will give opening remarks, followed by statements from Republican and Democratic leaders, according to the letter released by the White House. The president will moderate discussions on insurance reform, containing health-care costs, expanding insurance coverage and the impact on the deficit of measures to overhaul the health-care system, the letter says" (Chen and Brower, 2/13).
Christian Science Monitor: "Each side is to present ahead of time (and online for all to see) a comprehensive bill that would 'put a stop to insurance company abuses, extend coverage to millions of Americans, get control of skyrocketing premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and reduce the deficit'" (Knickerbocker, 2/13).
The New York Times: "The invitation seemed aimed at defusing criticism that the event is more politics than substance - or at least at putting skeptical Republicans on the spot so that they have little choice but to attend. ... Amid complaints from Republicans that the health negotiations have not been televised, as Mr. Obama promised, the letter noted that there have been 'hundreds of hours of committee hearings and mark-ups'' in both the House and the Senate, 'with nearly all of those sessions televised on C-Span.'' The Feb. 25 session, it said, will be 'broadcast in its entirety'" (Stolberg, 2/12).
Roll Call: "Attending on behalf of the administration will be Vice President Joseph Biden, the president's chief health care adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle and Sebelius. Obama plans to be the moderator. ... 'Now is the time to act on behalf of the millions of Americans and small businesses who are counting on meaningful health insurance reform. In the last year, there has been an extraordinary effort to craft effective legislation,' Emanuel and Sebelius wrote in the letter" (Drucker, 2/12).
The White House released the letter and list of invitees.
The Associated Press: "House Republicans derided the Feb. 25 event, casting doubt on whether it would produce any bipartisan agreement to extend coverage to millions of people and rein in medical costs. 'Are they willing to start over with a blank sheet of paper?' said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio. ... Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was more receptive, saying he would work with the White House 'to maximize the effectiveness of the meeting' ... By presiding over a meeting with three dozen lawmakers trying to get a word in edgewise, Obama may be able to dominate the conversation and the visual images" (Werner, 2/13)
Meanwhile, Politico reports that Nancy-Ann DeParle, "the top White House health care official requested a meeting with Republican Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) this week, a sign the Obama administration is trying to find new GOP partners on health care overhaul legislation. ... Much of the dialogue centered on an amendment Roskam introduced in the Ways and Means committee in July that dealt with waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare."
"He predicted Democrats would certainly find Republican support on a host of health-care related issues if they broke the legislation down into smaller pieces" (Sherman, 2/12).