Health Reform Plans Grab Spotlight As Specifics Emerge
President Obama's carefully worded health care reform letter to key Senate Democrats last week highlighted the growing role the president is taking in overhaul efforts, Politico reports.
Obama's best chance at getting comprehensive legislation is this year, many advisers believe. To achieve that, Politico says, he's ramping up the rhetoric. "'If we do nothing, everyone's health care will be put in jeopardy," he said in his Saturday radio and Internet address.'"
For instance, in his insistence on a public plan without providing a specific vehicle to alienate Republicans, Obama "bucked up the progressive base, which is the glue of the grass-roots support he needs to mobilize. Although Obama backed a public plan during the campaign, his supporters wanted to hear it again - and reaffirming that pledge ahead of the kickoff on Saturday of a Democratic Party-led national health campaign had to have helped." Obama also touched in his letter on what reform could mean for the deficit, slowing the growth of health costs and mandating that Americans carry coverage (Brown, 6/9).
Some other stories comment on where health care reform is going.
Roll Call reports on looming challenges from business lobbyists waking up to reform they may not like: "Advocates for health insurance companies, hospitals, provider groups and employers have so far been engaged in a marriage of convenience, hoping that by maintaining radio silence in exchange for a seat at the negotiating table they could influence the process and obtain a reform bill to their liking. But as legislative details have emerged in recent days and suggested the business community could end up with mandates and a government-run, public plan option, lobbying groups are preparing to step up their opposition messaging" (Drucker and Ackley, 6/9).
Wall Street Journal reports on the price tag for reform from the Congressional Budget Office: " Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said Monday his office has given lawmakers a "tremendous quantity of numbers" as they weigh how much it will cost to extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and how much revenue will be raised by proposed tax increases. The nonpartisan office's numbers are critical because they are the basis for determining a bill's price tag, and whether, as President Barack Obama has promised, the plan won't increase the budget deficit" (Adamy and Hitt, 6/9).
The Newshour reports on making the cost increases to offset reform's budgetary deficit spending more palatable to Republicans: "Obama has suggested that he could support limiting the existing tax exclusion for employer-provided health benefits to the highest tax bracket - a concept he criticized Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain for proposing in the 2008 presidential campaign."
MSNBC has more to say about the impact of changing the tax exemption on employer-provided health insurance: "While details of such an approach are still sketchy, it would likely involve employees paying tax on a percentage of their employer-provided health benefits. So if Congress decided that all such premiums in excess of $11,000 for family plans would be taxable income, and your company paid premiums worth $16,000 for your coverage, you'd have to pay taxes on $5,000" (Curry, 6/8).