March 4, 2010
This installment of Hall Render's Health Law Broadcast series on health care reform is designed to provide you with a brief update on significant developments from the previous week.
PRESIDENT OBAMA CONTINUES HIS PUSH
Perhaps we will see Reconciliation between the Senate and House Bills after All
President Obama has considerably stepped up his public activities in support of health care reform over the past week. Yesterday, he delivered a speech in which he continued his push for health care reform following last week's release of his reform proposal and the Health Care Summit he hosted with Senate and House leadership. His speech also followed a letter that he sent to Democratic and Republican Leadership the day before in which he outlined four "Republican" ideas that came out of the Summit and which he believes should be explored for inclusion in a final bill. These ideas include the funding of fraud and abuse undercover investigations, malpractice reform demonstration projects, increasing Medicaid reimbursement to physicians, and expanding the role and access to Health Savings Accounts. And in yesterday's speech, President Obama outlined the three basic goals of his proposal. In his words, these are 1) to "end the worst practices of insurance companies"; 2) to "give uninsured individuals and small business owners the same kind of choice of private health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves"; and 3) to "bring down the cost of health care for millions." President Obama believes that his health care reform proposal, which is an attempt at merging Senate and House reform efforts, accomplishes these goals. He further urged Congress in his speech to schedule a vote in the next few weeks - impliedly throwing his support behind the reconciliation process:
We have debated this issue thoroughly, not just for the past year but for decades. Reform has already passed the House with a majority. It has already passed the Senate with a supermajority of 60 votes. And now it deserves the same kind of up or down vote that was cast on welfare reform, that was cast on the Children's Health Insurance Program, that was used for COBRA health coverage for the unemployed, and, by the way, for both Bush tax cuts --- all of which had to pass Congress with nothing more than a simple majority.
President Obama's speech can be viewed here:
A transcript of his speech is available here:
And a copy of his Health Care Reform proposal here:
The Health Care Summit can be viewed here:
What to Expect Next
All eyes are on Senate and House leadership as they test the waters on whether the bill reconciliation process or some version of it is likely to succeed. But there are a number of issues and factors that will continue to frustrate this process. Just this morning, Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) indicated that he and 11 other House Democrats would vote against any overhaul effort unless a provision in the current Senate bill (H.R. 3590) is removed, which they believe would allow the federal government to "directly subsidize abortion." And the mid-term elections are inevitably making certain members of Congress skittish about their role in any reform activity. So, passage in the next few weeks seems unlikely, but with the renewed energy behind health care reform over the past two weeks, anything is possible.
Visit our Health Law Broadcast at hallrender.com/reform for a comprehensive listing of health care reform resources. Also sign up for health care reform alerts and periodic updates as we continue to monitor this important issue.