Democrats Now See A Homestretch For Health Overhaul Plan
President Barack Obama will take to the road next week for a push in America's heartland on health care reform.
Politico: "Promising to 'do everything in my power' to get Congress to pass health care legislation within the next few weeks, Obama will talk up health care Monday in the Philadelphia area and Wednesday in the St. Louis area. The White House expects to add more such events as Obama reaches out, as well, to wavering members of Congress." White House officials said they would prefer that Congress finish its work on health reform before Obama leaves for an overseas trip March 18. "Obama's renewed health care push comes a year after he first took up the issue in earnest, an anniversary Gibbs pointedly noted on Wednesday" (Lee, 3/4).
The Hill: Obama has learned to be more assertive on health reform after largely keeping out of the fray for the first year of a health overhaul try. "Obama made a crucial mistake not rallying the party behind a detailed healthcare reform proposal earlier in the debate, Democrats in both chambers broadly acknowledge. In recent weeks, Obama has seized control of the debate. Last week he released his most specific healthcare proposal to date and invited Republicans to the White House for a summit." Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said "Obama let Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) negotiate with Republicans for weeks on end in pursuit of a bipartisan healthcare deal because Democratic leaders requested the extra time. 'I think he's responded to the challenges as he sees them,' said Durbin. 'Sometimes it's a challenge to be patient and wait for Congress to work its will. Other times it's to be a catalyst for more activity'" (Bolton, 3/4).
CongressDaily: But "stumbling blocks" are popping up that could complicate Obama's timeline, including "angry liberals, House distrust of the Senate and the lack of a scored package of changes to the current overhaul that both chambers agree on." House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman "predicted Congress would finish health reform 'in the next month or two'" even as the White House called for a quicker turnaround on the bill. Other House Democrats talked Wednesday about "assurances they need from the Senate that the reconciliation bill will pass before the House will pass the upper chamber's overhaul bill" (Edney and Friedman, 3/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.