Health Care Summit
February 25, 2010 | Steph
Good morning everyone! We are getting ready here to start the live blog thread here in a few minutes. If you are at a computer and want to watch the health care summit on a live stream you can do so at the White House website for live videos. Otherwise C-SPAN is offering great coverage on all of their tv and radio outlets.
8:52 – The room at Blair House looks quite full. Speaker Pelosi is also present. Everyone is beginning to sit – looks like things will be starting soon!
8:58 - Kathleen Sebelius was sitting in Harry Reid’s seat. He definitely did not look happy when he asked her to move! A nice bit of humor for the morning.
8:59 – President Obama is walking to the Blair House right now.
9:04 – After walking across the street to Blair House, President Obama has just arrived! He is currently making the rounds and shaking hands with everyone. After, he is beginning a quick opening statement.
9:14 – President Obama is talking about his personal experiences with health insurance and the health care industry. He discussed how his mom spent the last six months of her life often on the phone with insurance companies, who were threatening to not pay her medical expenses.
9:16 – The bottom line: this became an idealogical battle and it trumped common sense. While the issue is contentious President Obama wants to focus on what everyone agrees on, not what they disagree on. He is definitely using language that focuses on the bipartisan spirit.
9:20 – President Obama just asked everyone to not ‘play for the cameras’ but to actually try and solve some problems and make some progress. Senator Lamar Alexander (R) is beginning the Republicans opening statement.
9:26 – Senator Alexander is asking the President to please start over on health care reform. He emphasizes that he wants the President to succeed on this issue because that means the country succeeds but states that President Obama needs to change the course of reform. Thus far, the Republicans are matching President Obama’s bipartisan language. We will see if all this nice language leads to some agreements.
9:35 – Senator Alexander has made one request to President Obama: please do not jam your health care reform bill through Congress by using reconciliation.
9:45 – Both Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid have relied on the stories of their constituents to let the group know how important it is to pass health care reform.
9:54 - President Obama is letting everyone know that they cannot keep going over their time limit. He is now focusing on something everyone discussed in their opening statements: cost.
9:58 – Senator Alexander just interrupted the President! They are having a bit of a heated disagreement over what the Congressional Budget Office said about insurance premiums.
10:05 – Senator Tom Coburn (R) is discussing how we are not practicing good medicine in America – that we need to focus on prevention. Money could be saved by focusing on prevention. He is focusing on some other money saving measures that he believes are not addressed enough in the President’s bill.
10:25 – The Republicans are not thrilled about the health care exchange. They would prefer to focus more on other cost saving measures, such as prevention, medical malpractice, etc.
10:30 – Republican leaders are concerned about where health care reform will leave small businesses. Senator Baucus (D) says that the bill will take care of small business owners through the exchange. He is now talking about how the exchange is like Orbitz! That is an interesting way to look at it! He says that everyone basically agrees and he thinks they can move forward!
10:37 – Rep. Dave Camp is focusing on specific items in both the House and Senate bills that he is concerned about, including restrictions on health saving accounts. President Obama asks him and encourages the group to start focusing on what we agree on, rather than going line by line in the bills that they do not like.
10:45 – Rep Paul Ryan (R) is concerned about big regulation. He is arguing that by having large, federal mandates and regulations you are actually making reform more expensive.
10:50 - Something everyone can agree on: using undercover patients. Progress???
11:03 – Rep. James Clyburn is the last speaker to discuss cost. This occurred after President Obama gave a fairly lengthy speech (what some might consider a lecture) in which he said that Congress is willing to have a great health care plan for themselves on the tax payers dime but they don’t want to provide that to the tax payers.
11:05 – Rep. Clyburn just mentioned community health centers! He urged for significant expansion of community health center’s as a meaningful step towards reform!
11:16 – The group is starting to discuss health insurance reform after moving from reducing costs.
11:24 – Rep. George Miller (D) is really pulling apart the insurance system with anything from changing pre-existing condition policies to not having co-pays for preventive visits.
11:32 – President Obama and Senator John McCain (R) had a heated exchange about what to focus on in these discussions. Senator McCain wanted to talk about the process by which these health care bills have come about and President Obama had a problem with that. It was like watching the 2008 Presidential election debates again!
11:45 – Rep. Cantor (R) lays out one of his biggest problems with the bill: people who are currently insured will not necessarily get to keep their current coverage. It is evidence of the big federal government regulation that the Republucan party is opposed to.
11:55 – Rep. Louise Slaughter (D) is talking about how we must regulate pre-existing conditions policies. She points out that in 8 states in the United States, domestic violence is a pre-existing condition. She is showing how health insurance and the medical industry have alienated women throughout their history and the only reason they do not anymore is because of legislation. Looks like she is trying to set up the basis for why Congress needs to implement better regulations on insurance companies.
12:00 – The House has apparently scheduled a vote so President Obama is breaking up the session until 12:45 CST.
All in all I would say that the disagreements come down to one overall theme: philosophical differences. Democrats want a bigger bill with greater regulation on insurance companies while Repblicans want smaller changes and fewer regulations. So we have to ask: how do you remedy that fundamental difference??