Friday, February 12, 2010

Invites for Feb. 25 Summit

have been released by the White House. It includes the chair and ranking members of the relevant committees and the leadership in the House and Senate. The Dems and Repubs each get to invite 4 members and 1 health policy staffer as well. Most interestingly, the President says he will release a bill prior to the summit....presumably this will be the Senate bill with fixes that have been discussed (taking out Nebraska Medicaid deal, etc.). I wonder if the President will also add some aspects and say the House and Senate have taken it this far, this is what I want. If I were advising him, I would suggest offering more med mal right up front.

He has asked Republicans to release a plan and place the text on line prior to the summit as he says he will do. This won't be so easy for the Republicans as they have only had to play defense up to this point. Of course they have ideas, some of them are reasonable, some preposterous. But, there are multiple bills--Patients' Choice Act, Ryan's Patients Choice Act on steroids that makes FDR's designs for change see reserved, Gregg's bill, Price's bill, etc. etc. and even more ideas that have not been placed into legislative language.

Even more important, they have a lot of folks who imagine themselves as the slayer of it will be interesting to see how they respond, and which 4 Republicans will be invited to participate. Which Republican(s) become the face of the health discussion will be very important. At the House meeting with the Pres two weeks ago, Rep. Ryan (R-WI) came across as reasonable, and Rep. Price (R-GA) as silly. So, it will make a difference. The Republicans could go with what Rep. Boehner put forth in November, which was scored by CBO as expanding coverage by 3 Million persons. Here is what I wrote about that in November. I doubt that is what they want as their 'here is what we would do' overture to the country, but I don't think any of the other bills have been scored completely by CBO. CBOs work on Ryan's roadmap is not a full score.

Here is what I wrote recently suggesting the House should pass the Senate bill. I think the default at this point is that they will not do so, though they always could. If both sides show with reasonable motives to the summit, there should be a a deal possible....the Senate bill is politically partisan but from a policy perspective is quite moderate and is more like the Republican alternative to the Clinton plan than anything else; the rhetoric used to describe the opposition to the bill has never reflected the the policy reality. Of course, it is not policy analysts who will be meeting on the 25th.....I hope they will work together and move ahead, but I don't feel optimistic.

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