Doubts, Questions Loom Over Planned Bipartisan Health Summit
Despite reservations from some GOP lawmakers, a group of Republican senators has lined up for Thursday's Obama-hosted health summit.
"The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has announced the Senate Republicans who will attend the health care summit meeting on Thursday," The New York Times Prescriptions blog reports. Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Michael Enzi of Wyoming, John McCain of Arizona, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and John Barrasso of Wyoming, will all be there. Barrasso and Coburn are both physicians (Herszenhorn, 2/23).
McConnell said, "Republicans will attend this summit in good faith, and will continue to offer the types of ideas and step-by-step approach that Americans are actually calling for: legislation that brings down costs and increases access for Americans," USA Today's The Oval reports (2/23).
Those Republicans will face off with Democratic counterparts including "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid joined by Democratic Senators Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Patty Murray, Max Baucus, Chris Dodd, Tom Harkin, Jay Rockefeller and Kent Conrad," Reuters reports (Holland, 2/23).
Across the Capitol, Politico: "House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is still playing hard to get on Thursday's health care summit. Boehner privately told his Republican members Tuesday morning that he has not officially accepted the invitation to the summit" (Hohmann and Sherman, 2/23).
Fox News' White House View adds, "As Washington anticipates a health care summit on Thursday that will give Republicans a face-to-face opportunity to make their case to President Obama, the White House is wondering why the GOP hasn't issued its own proposal for a health care overhaul." A White House spokesperson said, "What you can't do just yet is read about the Republicans' consensus plan because so far they haven't announced what proposal they'll be bringing to the table" (Pastre, 2/23).
NPR: "President Obama's televised health care summit with congressional leaders of both parties is just days away, but given reaction to the release Monday of his own health care overhaul proposal one could wonder: What's the point? Indeed, the point of the summit for the Obama administration, and Democrats, is exceedingly apparent - and much of it has to do with his own party, television cameras and the viewing audience" (Halloran, 2/23).
Meanwhile, dissent remains within the Democratic caucus, too. CBS News Political Hotsheet reports, Rep. Bart Stupak, "a Michigan Democrat who opposes abortion rights," has said Obama's plan is "unacceptable." The plan would allow "public funding of abortion," he said in a statement, because it hinges on the language adopted in the Senate. Stupak had offered a stricter amendment that was adopted in the House bill (Montopoli, 2/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.