Obama: No ‘Short Cut’ To Deal With Health Reform Issues
President Barack Obama surprised reporters by coming into the White House briefing Tuesday afternoon following a meeting with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders. He spoke about several issues, including the stalled health care overhaul efforts and his plans for a televised bipartisan meeting on health care later this month.
The Washington Post: "The president's two-hour session with the congressional leaders was spirited, by many accounts, covering health care, job creation, trade and other matters." Obama said he told House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, that his core goals -- lowering health-care costs for businesses and individuals and expanding coverage to the uninsured -- remained non-negotiable. But Obama said he would consider GOP alternatives that accomplish the same results. He also said he would sign what he considered to be a less-than-perfect bill. "I am going to be starting from scratch in the sense that I will be open to any ideas that help promote these goals," Obama told reporters. "What I will not do, what I don't think makes sense and I don't think the American people want to see, would be another year of partisan wrangling around these issues, another six months or eight months or nine months worth of hearings in every single committee in the House and the Senate in which there's a lot of posturing" (Murray, 2/9).
Politico: "Obama said he's also open to talking about Republican concerns, such as limiting medical malpractice lawsuits, but also made clear that if that's not the majority of the reason costs are going up, that he expected Republicans to address the other causes as well. 'There is no short cut in dealing with this issue. I know the American people get frustrated debating something like health care because you get so many competing claims,' Obama said. 'It's a complicated, tough issue, but what is also true is that without some action by Congress, it's very unlikely we see an improvement over the current trajectory' of higher premiums and more uninsured Americans" (Gerstein, 2/9).
The Hill: "Obama rejected Tuesday the notion that an upcoming healthcare summit would be little more than 'political theater.'" He expressed hope that a Feb. 25 televised, bi-partisan meeting with House and Senate leaders would result in "some substantive progress" regarding health reform. He also said "he and Democrats would be willing to give up some -- but not all -- of [their] desired parts of health reform if it were to help reach consensus. 'I'm willing to move off some of the preferences of my party in order to meet them halfway,' he said. 'But there's got to be some give on their side, too'" (O'Brien, 2/9).
Congress Daily: A top adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined "a plan that would allow both chambers to make changes to the Senate healthcare overhaul before the overhaul becomes law." Pelosi's aide described the plan this way, according to Congress Daily: "The trick in all of this is that the president would have to sign the Senate bill first, then the reconciliation bill second, and the reconciliation bill would trump the Senate bill,'" he told a meeting of the National Health Policy Conference hosted by AcademyHealth and Health Affairs. "Some have questioned whether rules would allow Congress to pass changes to a bill that is not yet law" (Edney, 2/9).