Obama Acknowledges Mistakes In Health Overhaul Politics And Processes
President Barack Obama acknowledged Monday in an interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer that mistakes were made in the health reform debate, among the biggest "was the confusing way in which the health bill was shaped." Obama said: "'I think the healthcare debate as it unfolded legitimately raised concerns not just among my opponents, but also amongst reporters that we just don't know what's going on,' and that some 'stray cats' got in the bill." Obama also said he "didn't make a bunch of deals" and "I am happy to own up to the fact that I have not changed Congress and how it operates the way I would have liked" (Mooney, 1/25).
Politico's Live Pulse reports that Obama said during his ABC interview that he will address health reform transparency issues during Wednesday's State of the Union address. "'I'll be speaking to this at the State of the Union, to own up to the fact that the process didn't run the way I ideally would like it to and that we have to move forward in a way that recaptures that sense of opening things up more,' [Obama said.] ... The kind of dealmaking that Democratic leaders engaged in during the health care reform talks have been part of Capitol Hill negotiations for decades. ... But Obama ran on a pledge of changing the way Washington works, which is the reason why reporters latched onto the issue." Obama nonetheless defended his efforts to make government more transparent, telling Sawyer, "I mean, this is the first White House in history where you know anybody who has walked into my office, ... you actually have a record of who comes in" (Budoff Brown, 1/25).
In the meantime, a House panel will consider proposal by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, that would require Obama to "divulge details about his negotiations with health care interest groups," The Hill reports. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up the resolution Wednesday. Lawmakers are upset over deals like the one for federal Medicaid funding for Nebraska forged by Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb. Democrats, "including Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Energy and Commerce's chairman, also expressed opposition to an agreement with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) on the grounds that it should have been asked to make a larger sacrifice." The Burgess resolution would ask the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services "to disclose the details of an agreement a coalition of interest groups made to contain healthcare costs by as much as $2 trillion over 10 years" (Young, 1/25).
CongressDaily: Burgess originally wrote to Obama in September "asking for more information about the deals." In the letter, Burgess pointed to "the Finance Committee markup during the same month when certain amendments, even Democratic ones, were shot down because they disrupted industry deals" (Edney, 1/25).