HHS Secretary Presses Lawmakers On Health Care
"Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a U.S. House panel Wednesday that the Obama administration is willing to negotiate how health overhaul legislation is paid for, but not whether it is paid for," according to the Dow Jones Newswires. Sebelius was testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She also told the panel that the House health overhaul bill, which is a product of Democrats from the three committees -- Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor -- "represents a historic step forward" (Yoest, 6/24).
The Associated Press reports that Sebelius' Energy and Commerce appearance "comes as congressional Democrats struggle with the $1 trillion-plus price tag for extending health coverage to 50 million uninsured Americans over 10 years."
"Although lawmakers are considering an option Obama has opposed - taxing employer-provided benefits - Sebelius' testimony indicates that the administration is ready to be flexible if Congress can deliver a bill." She used her testimony to encourage Democratic efforts as "costs concerns and partisan disputes" continue to stall progress. She also made clear that "Obama expects lawmakers to deliver. 'Health reform constitutes our most important domestic priority,' she said" (Alonso-Zaldivar and Espo, 6/24).
Meanwhile, MSNBC reports that Republican committee members pressed the Secretary to promise that the broad health overhaul will not add to the deficit, to which she offered the following, "That's what the President has stated: it will be paid for." She also said the president "has already pinpointed inefficiencies in the current health-care system from which about $950 billion in revenue can be generated over the next decade. Many Republican members remained skeptical that these funds could finance the lofty health-care reforms proposed in the House's draft legislation" (Wilde, 6/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.