Today’s “bipartisan” healthcare summit

I don’t have a lot of time to read up on today’s televised 6-hour healthcare summit in DC, but I did want to start a thread, in case anyone out there watched it and wanted to comment… The accompanying video is of a quick exchange between President Obama and Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who happens to be a medical doctor.

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  1. Posted February 25, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    As a designated republican, I would like to be the first to publicly thank President Obama for organizing today’s marathon healthcare summit at the Blair House. I believe that the media commentators summed up the results best:

    CNN’s WOLF BLITZER: “It looks like the Republicans certainly showed up ready to play.” (CNN’s “Live,” 2/25/10)

    CNN’s GLORIA BORGER: “The Republicans have been very effective today. They really did come to play. They were very smart.” (CNN’s “Live,” 2/25/10)

    BORGER: “They took on the substance of a very complex issue. … But they really stuck to the substance of this issue and tried to get to the heart of it and I think did a very good job.” (CNN’s “Live,” 2/25/10)

    CNN’s DAVID GERGEN: “The folks in the White House just must be kicking themselves right now. They thought that coming out of Baltimore when the President went in and was mesmerizing and commanding in front of the House Republicans that he could do that again here today. That would revive health care and would change the public opinion about their health care bill and they can go on to victory. Just the opposite has happened.” (CNN’s “Live,” 2/25/10)

    THE HILL’S A.B. STODDARD: “I think we need to start out by acknowledging Republicans brought their ‘A Team.’ They had doctors knowledgeable about the system, they brought substance to the table, and they, I thought, expressed interest in the reform. I thought in the lecture from Senator John McCain and on the issue of transparency, I thought today the Democrats were pretty much on their knees.” (Fox News’ “Live,” 2/25/10)

    GERGEN: “He doesn’t have a strong Democratic team behind him.” (CNN’s “Live,” 2/25/10)

  2. Hot Knuckle Lover
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    It’s a cut-n-paste party! Wooooo-hoooooo!

  3. dragon
    Posted February 25, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    ANONYMOUS_BLOGGER: McCain won’t shut up about tort reform.
    He thinks it’s “tart” reform and will make Cindy do what he says. (basement “live”2/25/10)

  4. Donald Washburn
    Posted February 26, 2010 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Like Designated Republican, I didn’t watch it, but I read this from someone who did:

    “I watched the summit today and saw Democrats staying within the bounds of reality in discussing the various ideas on the table and I saw the Republicans making things up. The president was in command of the facts, competently defended the Democratic position and successfully batted back many of the GOPs misrepresentations … Republicans do not want to pass any health care reform that will be signed by President Obama and even if he agreed to implement their ideas in whole cloth and call it day, they still wouldn’t vote for it. … Republicans and certain conservative Democrats are bad faith players in this process. They have no serious plan to fix the health care system but this summit’s optics may have led people to erroneously believe they do.”

    That settles it, then, I guess.

  5. Ed
    Posted February 26, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    So, now can we use reconciliation and get this over with?

  6. Meta
    Posted February 26, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    From Think Progress:

    A new analysis by the Center for Public Integrity shows that corporate interests attempted to exert an unprecedented amount of influence in the health care debate over the past year. More than “1,750 companies and organizations hired about 4,525 lobbyists — eight for each member of Congress — to influence health reform bills in 2009.” These groups included 207 hospitals, 105 insurance companies, 85 manufacturing companies, and 745 trade, advocacy, and professional organizations. Overall, “[b]usinesses and organizations that lobbied on health reform spent more than $1.2 billion on their overall lobby efforts.”

  7. Posted February 26, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I believe the fight is intense because there are more of us (the citizens of this country) that are aware of the disparity between us and the people who would have us continue to suffer the consequences of inferior to no health care, education, and adequate employment and all that those things provide from birth on in terms of support and security and intellectual development. The ones that say no to providing these important aspects of American life to it’s citizenry are the very fortunate citizens who have all of those things for themselves and their families. The nay sayers have spent billions of dollars to make it look like it is foolish to think everyone can have these important building blocks of an informed citizenry.

    The cat is out of the bag, pandora’s box has been opened. The nay sayers can maybe hold back the tide for a bit longer but this awareness is not going away.

  8. Kevin Paul
    Posted February 26, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Jon Stewart on yesterday’s Daily Show.

  9. Mr. X
    Posted February 26, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    As long as we’re cutting and pasting, I’ve got this from today’s Progress Report.

    Scaling The Summit
    During yesterday’s seven-and-a-half hour bipartisan health care reform summit, President Obama urged Republicans to abandon their obstructionist tactics and work with Democrats to pass comprehensive reform. Obama highlighted areas of bipartisan agreement in his health care proposal and suggested that Democrats would move forward with or without Republican support. “I will tell you this, that when I talk to the parents of children who don’t have health care because they’ve got diabetes or they’ve got some chronic heart disease; when I talk to small business people who are laying people off because they just got their insurance premium, they don’t want us to wait. They can’t afford another five decades,” Obama said. And while it’s unclear whether the forum moved the debate forward, it provided Obama with an opportunity to engage “in a spirited and detailed policy debate with Republicans about one of the most compelling and ideologically polarizing issues facing the nation.” The New York Times observed that “Mr. Obama’s mastery of the intricacies of health policy was impressive even to some Republicans.” “It was sort of his classroom,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said. “I was glad we did it, because the president’s megaphone is the biggest one and when he shares it with Republicans like he did, that gives us several hours to make our case, and I thought we made it well.'”

    AREAS OF AGREEMENT: Throughout the summer, Republicans claimed that they agreed with 80 percent of the Democrats’ bill. In September 2009, for instance, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) told a town hall meeting that “Republicans and Democrats agree on 80 percent of fixing the nation’s healthcare system.” Rep.Charles Boustany (R-LA), who delivered the Republican response to the President’s congressional address in September, also said, “I would venture to say that we agree on about 80% of the issues right now. It’s just a matter of hashing out those few areas where we disagree, but there’s really not been that kind of real discussion, and it needs to happen.” Yesterday, Democrats and Republicans held “a real discussion” and, at the President’s urging, laid out many areas of agreement. Obama stressed that both agree on the need for more regulation of insurers, creating larger risk pools to help small businesses purchase cheaper coverage, establishing some insurance regulations and tackling malpractice reform. In fact, Obama’s health care bill already includes many Republican proposals. The bill expands state-based high risk pools, creates a high deductible policy option for younger Americans, allows insurers to sell policies across state lines, gives stat es greater flexibility to undertake a number of reforms to improve the quality of how care is delivered, allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies for longer, eliminates a lot of the waste and abuse from current health care system and reduces medical errors. “And finally, with respect to bending the cost curve, we actually have a lot of agreement here. This is an area where if I sat down with Tom Coburn, I suspect we could agree on 95 percent of the things that have to be done,” he added. Obama even suggested that he may embrace some Republican tort reform proposals. “[T]here are some examples of [malpractice reform] legislation that I actually would be interested in pursuing. Tom Coburn, [John McCain] and Richard Burr have talked about incentivizing and allowing states to experiment much more vigorously with ways to reduce frivolous lawsuits, to pursue settlements, to reduce defensive medicine. That’s something I’d like to see if we could potentially get going.”

    AREAS OF DISAGREEMENT: Despite the many areas of bipartisan consensus and Republicans’ past support for comprehensive Democratic policies such as the individual health insurance mandate, Republicans continued to argue that Democrats should abandon the existing health care legislation and incremental approach to reform. “We believe we have a better idea. And that’s to take many of the examples that you just mentioned about health care costs, make that our goal, reducing health care costs, and start over, and let’s go step by step toward that goal,” said Alexander, who delivered the opening statement. “[W]e have to start by taking the current bill and putting it on the shelf and starting from a clean sheet of paper.” Republicans argued that Congress should extend coverage to only three million Americans and said that re-engineering the insurance market and providing subsidies requires too much government and too much money. The best Republicans could offer was ‘high-risk pools,” and they portrayed minimum standards for insurance — which they supported in 1993 — as a government takeover. Americans should move into catastrophic health insurance policies, they claimed, with higher deductibles and smaller benefits. During one exchange, Obama asked Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), “Would you be satisfied if every member of Congress just had catastrophic care — you think we’d be better health care purchasers? “I mean, is that a change you think we should make?” “I think actually we would,” Barrasso responded. “We’d really focus on it. We’d have more, as you say, skin in the game. And especially if they had a savings account — a health savings account — they could put their money into that, and they’d be spending the money out of that.” Obama’s response was penetrating: “Would you feel the same way if you were making $40,000? Or if that was your income. Because that’s the reality for a lot of folks.”

    MOVING FORWARD WITH REFORM: Obama closed the summit by suggesting that, without greater Republican cooperation, Democrats would have to move reform alone. “We cannot have another year-long debate about this. So the question that I’m going to ask myself and I ask of all of you is, is there enough serious effort that in a month’s time or a few weeks’ time or six weeks’ time we could actually resolve something?” Obama asked. “[I]f we can’t close that gap, then I suspect Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner are going to have a lot of arguments about procedures in Congress about moving forward.” The president also dismissed the Republicans’ incrimentalist approach to reform. “The reason we didn’t do it is because it turns out that baby steps don’t get you to the place where people need to go. They need help right now. And so a step-by-step approach sounds good in theory, but the problem is, for example, we can’t solve the preexisting problem if we don’t do something about coverage.” Republicans continued to insist that Democrats start over on reform. “The core problem is this: we don’t think a 2,700 page bill…is a good idea,” Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said after the summit. “I was discouraged by the outcome,” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) added. “I do not believe there will be any Republican support for this 2,700 page bill.” Still, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sounded optimistic. “I still believe that we can work together and am hopeful that we reach the bipartisan solution to health reform that we’ve always preferred. We are serious about delivering meaningful health reform to the American people, and all options remain on the table to accomplish that,” he said.

  10. applejack
    Posted February 26, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I watched most of it. It was an interesting debate. About half the republicans had constructive criticisms, the other half seemed to think starting over on the whole thing was a useful argument.

  11. ypsilistener
    Posted February 26, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m going with Rochelle Riley’s comments from the Detroit Free Press:

    If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s my favorite comment: “The two parties disagreed on nearly everything and showed little intention of changing their minds because they represent two Americas: The Republicans represent only the haves. And the Democrats, the have-nots.”

    I can’t imagine a way I could be convinced that this is not so.

  12. Posted February 26, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Who then is representing the “we have nothing left to tax or borrow” group? I don’t see President Obama or the Democrat Congressional leadership offering to step up for this group, which represents the vast majority of the country.

    Tha “have/have not” argument was old and worn 25 years ago, and no more true then.

  13. Stonycreek
    Posted February 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink


    Mark check out what happens to the unicorn when you “die”.
    If you sue and get rich i want 99%

  14. Posted February 28, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been trying to get a screen capture of it, to send to my attorneys, but I’m not fast enough.

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