Health Care Reform: Obama Incorporates More Republican Ideas

March 2, 2010

President Obama wrote to Congressional leaders today, outlining several items suggested by Republican lawmakers at last week’s health care summit that he is recommending be incorporated into the reform package:

No matter how we move forward, there are at least four policy priorities identified by Republican Members at the meeting that I am exploring. I said throughout this process that I’d continue to draw on the best ideas from both parties, and I’m open to these proposals in that spirit.

Read the entire letter.

The provisions include:

  • Using undercover patients to expose fraud (suggested by Sen. Coburn)
  • Allocating $50 million for pilot programs for resolving medical malpractice disputes
  • Increasing physician reimbursement rates for Medicaid
  • Offering high-deductible/Health Savings Plan options  in the exchange
  • Removing the special benefits given to Florida and Nebraska

President Obama is expected to give a speech on health care reform tomorrow (Wednesday, March 3) which will likely lay out a legislative process — which, by some indications, could start to move pretty quickly.

For additional resources on health care reform, visit the Abundant Life health care page.


Health Care Reform: The Summit

February 26, 2010

Faith Letter/Ad: Ahead of Thursday’s bipartisan summit, faith groups placed an ad in The Hill Newspaper calling on the President and Congress to have the courage, vision, leadership, and faith to move meaningful health care reform forward. Nearly 150 national and state/regional organizations signed the letter in the ad, along with 26 national faith leaders.

Bipartisan Summit: While there was certainly a fair bit of political theatre at times, with legislators on both sides reading talking points and spouting divisive rhetoric, there was also a good bit of constructive debate at yesterday’s bipartisan summit – particularly, around issues such as waste, fraud and abuse; minimum standards for insurance policies in the exchange; medical malpractice; and the need for better coordination of care, particularly for those with chronic illnesses. One issue where there was difficulty reaching agreement, was on the issue of coverage:

John Boehner, I looked at your bill; I think, as I said, there’s some overlap on some issues. But when it comes to the coverage issue, the Congressional Budget Office says yours would potentially increase coverage for 3 million people and the efforts of the House and the Senate would cover 30 million… We can have an honest disagreement as to whether we should try to give some help to those 27 million people who don’t have coverage… And it may be that the other side just feels as if, you know what, it’s just not worth us doing that. But one of the things I hope we don’t do is to pretend that somehow, for free, we’re going to be able to get those 30 million people covered. We’re not. If we think it’s important as a society to not leave people out, then we’re going to have to figure out how to pay for it. If we don’t, then we should acknowledge that we’re not going to do that.

— President Barack Obama

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Health Care Reform – Reconcilation

February 24, 2010

…stop crying over reconciliation as if it’s never been done before… It’s been done by almost every Congress, and they’re the ones who have used it more than anyone else.  Contract for America was done with reconciliation. Tax cuts, done with reconciliation. Medicare, done with reconciliation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)


Obama takes questions at Republican retreat

February 10, 2010

Fans of the Prime Minister’s Questions (U.K.) will love this hour-long exchange between President Obama and House Republicans:

I mean, the fact of the matter is is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You’ve given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you’ve been telling your constituents is, “This guy’s doing all kinds of crazy stuff that’s going to destroy America.”

And I — I would just say that we have to think about tone.  It’s not just on your side, by the way. It’s — it’s on our side as well. This is part of what’s happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do.

– President Barack Obama taking questions at a House Republican retreat January 29th in Baltimore, Maryland.  Watch the video.  Read the transcript.


Health Care Reform Update

February 5, 2010

Finishing the Job

We’ve got to finish the job on health care. We’ve got to finish the job on financial regulatory reform. We’ve got to finish the job, even though it’s hard.

– President Obama speaking to Senate Democrats at their annual issues retreat on Wednesday

There seems to be some momentum growing for taking the path forward where the House would pass the Senate bill and both chambers would pass a package of “fixes” which the Senate would process through budget reconciliation (requiring only 51 votes for passage). Several senators made public comments in support of the reconciliation option this week.

The House is not likely to immediately vote to pass the Senate bill. Progressive members would first like to see the Senate at least start to work on, and maybe pass, a reconciliation bill before the House passes the Senate reform bill. Also, there are still concerns that some changes can’t be accomplished through reconciliation. Read more in this Health Affairs blog post from Tim Jost.

Spring deadline?

Because the language which allows for budget reconciliation was passed with the FY2010 budget bills, once Congress starts passing FY2011 budget bills, as early as April, the budget reconciliation language would expire. It’s uncertain whether there would be the votes to put reconciliation language in the FY2011 bills. As such, there is now talk of spring as a deadline for finishing health care reform (the one major caveat being that budget bills are often passed late, if at all, in an election year).

Could the Public Option make a comeback?

Read the rest of this entry »


Health Care Reform Update

January 29, 2010

1/29 Virtual Vigil – Call your members of Congress today!

On Monday, 56 national and state faith organizations, including the Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office, sent a letter to Congress, urging members to move forward with comprehensive health insurance reform.

As people of faith, we envision a society where every person is afforded health, wholeness and human dignity. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we just commemorated, famously wrote in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Less well known is his admonition that “of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Read the entire letter.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address, renewing his call for Congress to pass comprehensive health care reform:

By the time I’m finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.

Thus far, there have been no positive signs from either the House or the Senate that legislation will be moving soon. Leaders in both houses are pledging to act but giving few specifics (read more).

Join the push for real health care reform. Call your members of Congress today!

For additional resources on health care reform, visit the Abundant Life health care page.


Haitians Granted Temporary Protected Status!

January 15, 2010

As part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to assist Haiti following Tuesday’s devastating earthquake, I am announcing the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. This is a disaster of historic proportions and this designation will allow eligible Haitian nationals in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months.

- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (read the press release)

Donations to help victims of the disaster can be made at mcc.org.


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