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Health Care Summit Analysis: Closing thoughts

Session 1: Cost Containment | Session 2: Insurance reforms | Session 3: Reducing the deficit | Session 4: Coverage

5:25 p.m. | It's a wrap
And, we're done. Roughly seven hours after it began, the Great Health Care Summit of 2010 has come to a close. In the end, there's little sign that the two parties are any closer together than they were before, or that there's any more likelihood of a bipartisan deal today than there was yesterday. Did you change your mind about the issue today? Or at least learn something you didn't know? Sound off in the comments section below.

Thanks very much for reading and watching with us. For all the after-action coverage of this summit and and the reform issue going forward, be sure to bookmark the Post's dedicated health-care page.
--Ben Pershing


5:24 p.m. | The extent of public health programs
Obama just made a misstatement that he has made before: that there are more people now covered by public programs like Medicare and Medicaid than by private insurance. He used the factoid to argue that government already plays a big role in health care, even before the Democratic legislation has gone into effect. It's true that public health programs have grown, but his factoid is way off. He is probably referring to a recent report that there will soon be more public spending on health care than private spending. But that is different than saying that more people are enrolled in public coverage than private -- there are still tens of millions more in private plans. Why the discrepancy? The people in public programs cost more -- they are the old and disabled. So even though there are fewer of them, they will soon be driving a majority of the spending. Factcheck.org caught this mistake by Obama the first time around.
--Alec MacGillis


5:24 p.m. | More from Obama's close

An invitation to act that is unlikely ever to get an RSVP:

"I'd like the Republicans to do a little soul searching." The American people "don't want us to wait. They can't afford another five decades."

"Politically speaking, there may not be any reason for Republicans to want to do something... I don't need a poll to know that most of Republican voters are opposed to this bill and might be opposed to the kind of compromise we could craft. It might be very hard politically for you to do this. But I think it was worthwhile to make this effort."

Obama then signaled his own intentions: "We cannot have another yearlong debate about this." Democrats will move forward alone, and if the public doesn't like it. Well, "that's what elections are for."
--Lori Montgomery


5:21 p.m. | Obama sums up
In a lengthy closing, Obama summarizes for the Republicans what he thinks has been accomplished. Here's what we've got so far:

1. We agree we need insurance market reforms.
2. We agree that small businesses and individuals "trapped" in the individual market should be offered the opportunity to purchase insurance through larger pools.
3. We disagree on whether there should be minimum standards for coverage.
4. We disagree on whether to permit insurers to sell policies across state lines.
5. We disagree on whether the Democratic plan is a "big government takeover."
6. I'm willing to talk to you about malpractice reform, but not hard caps on damages for plaintiffs.

"I'd be interesting in seeing whether we could work on something," the president said, before launching into yet another defense of the big, expensive, comprehensive plan Republicans hate.
--Lori Montgomery


5:17 p.m. | Checking back with Paul Ryan
In the flurry of back and forths earlier this afternoon, Paul Ryan, the policy-minded Wisconsin Republican, made a provocative remark that deserves a closer look, especially since neither Obama or congressional Democrats responded to his claim: that the deficit reduction that the Democratic legislation provides is somewhat overstated because of an accounting gimmick. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Senate's and House's health care bills would reduce the deficit by about $130 billion over 10 years. But this is misleading, Ryan said, because the savings are frontloaded in the bills -- the savings will be gained in the first 10 years, but after that, the bill will start to bleed red ink.

This is off the mark. There is some tricky accounting in the bills, to the degree that they understate the 10-year price tag of the bills -- the 10-year window is defined as being from 2010 to 2020, but the bill does not really take effect until 2013 and 2014, so that window understates its true 10-year cost. In fact, the cost of the bills in 2016, when it is really up and running, will be about $150 billion per year.

But that does not mean that Ryan is correct about the timeline deficit reduction. Because if the price tag climbs more in the out years, so do the revenues that will be coming in under the bills. According to the CBO, the excise tax on high-cost insurance plans that is in the Senate bill produces more revenue as time goes on and more plans cross the threshold for being taxed, which will not be adjusted more slowly than the rise in health care costs. The income tax surcharge on the very wealthy in the House bill collects more money as more people reach the threshold for the tax.

That may be less true of the proposal the president unveiled last week, since he scaled back the excise tax. His proposal has not been scored yet by the CBO, but the White House itself admits that its plan will result in smaller deficit reduction over the first 10 years than the House and Senate bills -- about $100 billion. But the notion that those two bills have been estimated only to save money in the near term is not correct.
--Alec MacGillis


5:01 p.m. | Still quite far apart
Lest you mistake the last six hours for a productive discussion, as the summit comes to a close, both sides are digging in: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell just repeated the top GOP talking point: The public hates it. Let's scrap this bill.

And Democrats Charlie Rangel and John Dingell are responding: That ain't going to happen. If Republicans don't leave here today "at least talking about what we agree on," as Rangel put it, Democrats will have taken a stab at engaging the GOP and, having failed, must forge on alone.

As Rangel said in response to another favorite GOP talking point: "I have no clue how big the Medicare bill was, how big the Social Security bill was. And I don't think someone sick in the emergency room really cares how big the bill is that we're trying to help them with."
--Lori Montgomery

Session 4: Coverage

4:19 p.m. | On Dingell
John Dingell is the dean of the House -- the longest-serving current member of the chamber. And he has some health-care experience no other lawmaker does; Dingell was sitting in the Speaker's chair the day the House first passed the bill creating Medicare in 1965.
--Ben Pershing


4:17 p.m.
The current speaker, Rep. Peter Roskam (R), served in the Illinois state Senate with Obama. They had a memorable exchange during the president's visit to the House GOP retreat in Baltimore, where Roskam essentially wondered what happened to the bipartisan Obama he knew back in Springfield.
--Ben Pershing


4:04 p.m. | Barrasso endorses catastrophic coverage
The Republicans have been promoting the merits of high-deductible "catastrophic coverage" plans of the sort that they say the Democrats' legislation would not allow, since it would not provide comprehensive coverage. Sen. John Barasso just said that the patients he sees as a physician back home in Wyoming who have catastrophic coverage tend to be his most informed, discerning customers because they have some skin in the game. Obama countered by asking Barasso whether he would have all of Congress switch over to catastrophic plans, and Barasso said he would. Well, Obama said, that's only because congressmen make enough money that they can pick up the cost of whatever would not be covered.

But there's another downside to high-deductible plans: their costs are soaring just as much as other. Many residents in the D.C. area have gotten notices in recent months saying that their high-deductible plans with Carefirst are going up by 40 percent or more. We checked with the District's insurance commissioner's office, which told us that it had in fact signed off on a very large increase for Carefirst's high-deductible policy in the region.
--Alec MacGillis


Given the opportunity to state the Republican position on insurance coverage, John Barrasso is endorsing catastrophic coverage, which makes people much "better consumers," because they have to ask how much an MRI costs before they consent to have one. Under questioning from Obama, he insists that members of Congress should have catastrophic coverage, too.

To which Obama offered a fairly powerful zinger: Of those who currently can't afford to pay for care, "we can debate whether we can afford to help them." he said. "But we can't say they don't need help."
--Lori Montgomery


4:10 p.m. | Summit 'not a campaign'
Obama strikes a bipartisan pose by cutting off Henry Waxman: "We're not making campaign speeches here." Will that earn him any goodwill on the GOP side?
--Ben Pershing

3:56 p.m. | On to questions of coverage
Now we're getting down to the heart of the dispute between the two parties: Should the United States aspire to provide health insurance to every American? Or 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," Obama said.

The final 45 minutes of the summit will be devoted to the question of universal coverage.
--Lori Montgomery


Session 3: Reducing the deficit

3:52 p.m. | McCain on malpractice
John McCain followed his Republican colleagues this morning in citing limits on malpractice suits in Texas and California as a model for national malpractice reform. He noted that the reforms have had an impact in Texas in reducing the number of suits brought and the rates for malpractice insurance. But the example does not work on another level, as an argument for malpractice reform being the biggest answer to solving the problem of high health care costs and low coverage -- because Texas still has, by many measures, one of the most flawed health care systems in the country. The state has by far the highest rates of uninsured -- 25 percent of the state, more than 6 million. Many small businesses and individuals in the state face some of the highest premiums in the country. The state is very high in rankings of Medicare spending per patient. Atul Gawande captured this in his New Yorker piece last year about the sky-high Medicare spending in McAllen, Texas. He asked doctors there about their high spending:

"It's malpractice," a family physician who had practiced here for thirty-three years said. "McAllen is legal hell," the cardiologist agreed. Doctors order unnecessary tests just to protect themselves, he said. Everyone thought the lawyers here were worse than elsewhere.

That explanation puzzled me. Several years ago, Texas passed a tough malpractice law that capped pain-and-suffering awards at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Didn't lawsuits go down?
"Practically to zero," the cardiologist admitted.
"Come on," the general surgeon finally said. "We all know these arguments are [false]. There is overutilization here, pure and simple." Doctors, he said, were racking up charges with extra tests, services, and procedures.

--Alec MacGillis

3:47 p.m. | Senate politics of health care
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who just spoke, provided a reminder that not only is the current majority leader present at the summit, but there is a good chance the next majority leader is there too. If Republicans manage to take back the Senate, Mitch McConnell would get the job. And even if Democrats hold the Senate, there is a decent chance that Harry Reid will lose his reelection race in Nevada. If he does, the contest to succeed him in the Senate's top job would likely be between Durbin and Chuck Schumer. That race, pitting two very potent political forces in the chamber, would be fascinating to watch.
--Ben Pershing


3:45 p.m. | On reconciliation
Reconciliation (n.): A special budget process created to move politically difficult legislation forward, particularly if it reduces the deficit. A reconciliation bill is a budget bill that, in this case, must reduce deficits by $2 billion over the next 10 years.

The procedural advantage is that it cannot be filibustered so, in this Senate, a bill could pass with only 50 votes -- and no Republicans.

The practical problem, however, is that the reconciliation strategy would require the House first to approve a Senate bill that is deeply unpopular in the lower chamber. And then Pelosi's team would have to initiate the reconciliation bill, which would contain the fixes that would change the Senate bill and make the final product closer to the House's liking.

Why is that a problem? Because the Senate is so dysfunctional, the House doesn't trust it to pass anything.

The real equation coming out of this summit is not whether Republicans sign on to the heath reform effort. It's whether congressional Democrats have the stomach to move forward alone.
--Lori Montgomery


3:38 p.m. | Jim Cooper, one-man, anti-deficit band
It's fascinating that Jim Cooper is sitting at that table. He has hardly been a reliable advocate of either the administration's or House leadership's positions. Instead, Cooper is a one-man anti-deficit band, who is also deeply invested in the idea of a commission to deal with the fact that we raise way too little in taxes to pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and everything else we want to do as a nation.

"If you don't think this bill reduces the deficit enough," he lectured the Republicans, "vote for more savings."


3:28 p.m. | Health summit a warm up for Conrad?
For Kent Conrad, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, this health care summit is something of a warm-up for the big event -- the president's commission on the deficit. While this summit is little more than political theater, the deficit commission has the potential to shape Obama's response to budget deficits projected to hover around $1 trillion a year for much of the next decade.

The Democratic health care bill actually has a chance of improving the long term budget outlook, according to the CBO. But not by much.
--Lori Montgomery


3:27 p.m. | Behind the scenes
A Republican aide emails to point out that "every time a Republican makes a point the President handles the rebuttal. Doesn't seem to allow any of his congressional D's weigh in until after he's reframed the issue." It's true, there have been almost no cases today where a Republican lawmaker has spoken and then a Democratic lawmaker has immediately gotten the chance to respond. Obama always goes first. Of course, Obama called this summit. But it does mean that Hill Democrats have been less engaged in the back-and-forth debates than Obama and the Republicans have.
--Ben Pershing

3:21 p.m. | Grassley flip-flops on individual mandate?
Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican whom the White House and Sen. Max Baucus tried so hard to bring on board the health care legislation, just gave a very strong statement against the individual insurance mandate included in the bill: "For the first time in the 220 year history of this country, the federal government is telling you you've got to buy something," he said.

There's just one thing: less than a year ago, Grassley was one of the many Republicans and conservatives who were still speaking in favor of an insurance insurance mandate, seeing it as a matter of personal responsibility. "I've been finding among some conservative Republicans the feeling of individual responsibility. Not that they want to do that, but the fact is that it is costing everyone anyway," he said in May. "So you have a shared responsibility."
--Alec MacGillis


3:15 p.m. | CBO: Referee? God? Or unreliable?
Unless you dwell in the most rarefied Washington policy circles, you may not realize how sharply Xavier Becerra just stabbed Paul Ryan in the heart.

"You called into question the Congressional Budget Office!" Becerra charged. "I think we have to decide, do we believe in the Congressional Budget Office or not?"

As Sen. Chuck Grassley noted, "I consider CBO God around here."

What is the CBO? The nonpartisan agency Democrats and Republicans alike rely on to attach numbers and economic projections to their proposed policies, an agency that has persevered with intensely objective analyses despite some leaders who later proved fairly partisan on both sides of the political line (hello, White House budget director Peter Orszag and McCain economic adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin).

But is the agency God? Decide for yourself. Here's my story about how they score health care bills.
--Lori Montgomery

3:05 p.m. | Ryan goes after Medicare spending
A new wrinkle was added to the Republican case as Paul Ryan took the mike just now to lay out the Republican argument on cost control and deficit reduction. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican seen as one of the party's rising stars, made a forceful warning about the country's looming debt. What he didn't say, though, is that his own plan for tackling Medicare liabilities -- which some in his party have portrayed as their general economic blueprint -- is to do away with existing Medicare for all people who are now under 55 and replace it with a voucher system. At age 65, people would get vouchers to buy private insurance. The government would save money because the value of the vouchers would increase more slowly than the cost of health care. It is a bold and radical idea. But it is also highly controversial -- seniors would have reason to worry that the vouchers would not be enough to let them buy coverage, especially given how wary insurers would be to sell health insurance to the elderly.

And Ryan's stance is starkly at odds with what other Republicans have been saying today in objecting to any cuts in Medicare. Ryan would not just trim Medicare, he would replace it with something else entirely.
--Alec MacGillis


Paul Ryan is one of the smartest guys in the House Republican caucus, and his numbers are fairly accurate. Even some supporters of the Democratic health care plan worry that reducing Medicare spending by hundreds of billions of dollars and then using the money to finance a new entitlement program is not a particularly effective way of dealing with the looming deficit crisis.
Obama is trying to turn the discussion back to Medicare Advantage, an extremely inefficient and expensive subset of Medicare that Democrats want to scale back dramatically. But he ducked the central issue: How do you solve your long term problems if you use Medicare cuts -- not to mention significant tax increases -- to pay for a big new program that may or may not serve to cut health care costs overall.

If it were to succeed in slowing the rate of growth of the cost of health care, that would be one thing. But economists and other experts are deeply divided over whether those provisions of reform would actually work.
--Lori Montgomery


3:02 p.m. | Background on Medicare Advantage
Lots of discussion here about the Medicare Advantage program and proposed cuts to it. The Washington Post's Philip Rucker traveled to McCain's home state to file this report on the subject back in October.
--Ben Pershing


2:55 p.m. | Obama favors individual mandate (the same one he opposed during campaign)
Hillary Clinton, are you watching? President Obama just delivered a long overdue mea culpa for having opposed an individual mandate for health insurance in the 2008 Democratic primaries, only to have since become a staunch defender of it against Republican attacks. During the primaries, Obama tussled with Hillary Clinton (and earlier John Edwards) over their difference on this score, saying that a mandate was not absolutely necessary and, at points, even attacking Clinton for her proposed mandate in an opportunistic tone not dissimilar to what Republicans are saying against Obama now.

Today, Obama acknowledged his change of heart more explicitly than he usually tends to do. "I was dragged kicking and screaming to the conclusion I arrived at, that it made sense to have everybody purchase insurance," he said.
--Alec MacGillis


2:50 p.m. | Biden finds consensus?
"We're not cutting Medicare benefits in this. We're trying to eliminate the third of the problem that's waste." -- Vice President Biden
This sounds AWESOME. Nobody is in favor of waste, fraud and abuse. And there are health care economists out there who do, in fact, believe that a giant chunk of change can be cut out of Medicare -- and the health system generally -- without affecting care. However, nobody actually knows how to do it. Under guidelines adopted in the Senate bill, the Congressional Budget Office believes that the increase in spending per beneficiary would be cut dramatically. But the CBO -- and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the administration agency in charge of the programs -- has signalled doubts that the program can absorb cuts of that magnitude without either driving doctors out of the program or otherwise affecting service to seniors.
--Lori Montgomery



Session 2: Insurance reforms

2:48 p.m. | Blackburn on buying insurance across state lines
And around the bend we go again on buying insurance across state lines. Were all of these people absent for the morning session? Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) just declared that Californians wouldn't be suffering 39 percent rate increases in the individual market if they could just go and buy coverage in other states. Except that by the insurance industry's own explanation of their increases, letting people buy across state lines would only exacerbate the rate hikes in California. Anthem Blue Cross says its rates are soaring in California because healthier people are dropping their coverage as a result of the recession, leaving the individual insurance pool only with older and sicker people who really need their insurance. If people could buy insurance in other states, even more young and healthy Californians would flee the Anthem plan for whatever bare-boned policy they could find in an another state, making the plan in California even more expensive for those who stayed in it.
--Alec MacGillis


2:45 p.m. | Health summit time of possession
On the subject of which side has been speaking longer, the Senate Republican Communications Center sends along this breakdown, along with an interesting NFL playoff parallel.

Speaking time in first half of summit:

Total D: around 108 minutes
Total R: around 56 minutes 15 seconds
Obama Alone: around 57 minutes 45 seconds

But time of possession doesn't always matter:

Vikings(28) - time of possession 36:49
Saints(31) - time of possession 27:56

--Ben Pershing


2:27 p.m. | Rockefeller on individual mandate
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, in a rant against the "rapacious insurance industry," made an especially good debating point: The individual mandate -- the unpopular requirement that everyone buy insurance -- is "not in there for some government purpose," he said. The insurance industry is demanding "a big pool" of new, young, cheap customers in exchange for complying with all the popular stuff both parties want it to do: get rid of pre-existing conditions, stop yanking coverage out from under people who get sick and ban annual and lifetime limits on benefits.
--Lori Montgomery


Sen. Jay Rockefeller has been one of the most aggressive advocated in the Senate for moving health-care reform to the left. He was a strong supporter of the public option -- which now appears to be dead -- and it took quite awhile before he would acquiesce to backing a measure that didn't have the government-run insurance plan. He's also been one of the harshest critics of insurance companies, as we're hearing now.
--Ben Pershing


2:19 p.m. | The truth about Massachusetts
Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat, just touted Massachusetts' universal coverage law as an example to do comprehensive health care reform, but was a bit over-general in the figures he used to make the case. He said that premiums have dropped sharply in the state since the law passed in 2006. Just to be clear: one particular part of the population has indeed seen a drop in premiums in the Bay State, people without employer-based coverage who buy their own policies. Such people have indeed seen their premiums go down because the state's insurance mandate has brought more people into the pool, spreading costs more widely (the state also provides subsidies to help people buy their coverage.) But overall in Massachusetts, the average cost of premiums have continued to increase since the law passed, just as they have elsewhere in the country. That has brought state lawmakers around to a whole new effort to control medical costs in the state, which wasn't really the focus of the initial law.
--Alec MacGillis


2:12 p.m. | Enzi weighs in on insurance exchanges

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) was a member of the infamous Gang of Six who met all summer to try to reach a bipartisan compromise on health reform. And he just offered a fairly constructive proposal: Let's create these government-run insurance exchanges, but let insurance companies offer pretty much any plan they want. Plans that meet the federal standards for minimum coverage would be marked as such, so buyers would know what they're getting.

This is particularly important to Enzi, because research by the insurance industry found that the Democrats' minimum standards would dramatically increase coverage standards in his state, forcing the average purchaser in the individual market to pay hundreds of dollars more. Yes, for better coverage. But, still, hundreds of dollars more.

--Lori Montgomery


12:57 | Break for Lunch/House Vote
In case you're wondering, the House is currently voting on the rule governing debate for the Intelligence Authorization Bill. Yes -- there are issues other than health care being discussed and acted upon today.
--Ben Pershing


12:55 p.m. | Obama-Cantor exchange exposes fundamental disagreement between parties
The exchange just now between the president and House Whip Eric Cantor (Virginia) -- at about 12:45 -- captured the fundamental disagreement on health care better than anything else so far today. Obama, taking full advantage of his ability to control (or abuse) the clock, delivered a lengthy explanation of why, in his view, the Republicans' more incremental, piecemeal approach to health care reform doesn't work. The Republicans say that they, too, are against letting insurers deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and that they are against insurers who deny paying for medical costs once people with coverage actually get sick. But it is impossible to address these problems without more overarching reform, he said. If you ban pre-existing conditions as a reason for denying coverage, then people will simply wait until they're sick to buy coverage. The way to avoid that, he said, is to require everyone to be covered -- the individual mandate that Republicans are strongly opposed to.

Cantor responded by laying bare the Republican objection to the legislation in more explicit terms than usual: covering people is a nice thing to do, he said, but the country shouldn't have to pay for it. "We just can't afford this, that's the ulatmate problem," he said. "In a perfect world, everyone would have everything they want."
-- Alec MacGillis

12:43 p.m. | Cantor offers subtle critique of Obama plan
Under a smooth exterior, Eric Cantor is slipping in several digs against Obama. First he pointed out that while the Senate bill is quite long (and is stacked up in front of him for dramatic effect), Obama's proposed compromise is only an 11-page outline at this point and thus lacking in details. And he pointed out that the CBO declared that because of that lack of detail, it couldn't put a proper price tag on Obama's plan.
--Ben Pershing


12:36 p.m. | John McCain is attacking Obama and the Democrats on one of their most vulnerable points in the health care debate -- the fact that the health care negotiations have not been out in the open, as Obama promised they would be during the campaign, and the fact that special deals were cut to get some votes, such as Ben Nelson's "Cornhusker Kickback."

But here's the thing: after seeing today what six hours of on-camera bipartisan health care negotiations actually look like, how many people out there are going to be wishing that they'd months and months of this?
--Alec MacGillis


It makes sense that John McCain would make early reference to all of the Medicare Advantage customers in Arizona. The program is quite popular in his state and, coincidentally, McCain is up for reelection this year. He faces a primary challenge from ex-Rep. JD Hayworth, and this summit provides McCain with a useful opportunity to speak directly to voters back home, just as it does for Harry Reid.
--Ben Pershing


12:29 p.m. | Market-based versus minimum levels of coverage; high risk pools
Charles Boustany, Republican of Louisiana and a cardiovascular surgeon, got to the heart (sorry) of the issue just now when he noted the clear philosophical differences between the Republican vision for a more market-based health care system and the Democratic version, where the government would require minimum levels of coverage. Yes, in theory the Democratic legislation allows people to buy policies across state lines, he said, but "this bill restricts those options too much" by requiring all plans for people buying individual coverage to offer a minimum level of benefits.

Boustany also touted another favorite Republican idea -- relying on "high risk pools" to cover people who are so high-risk that they simply cannot find coverage on the open market. But our colleague Amy Goldstein looked at this idea closely in 2008 and found that they have not worked well at all in the states that have tried to use them -- pooling very sick people together, not surprisingly, is a very expensive way to approach health insurance.
--Alec MacGillis


12:19 p.m. | Rep. Charles Boustany, the current speaker, is a cardiovascular surgeon, as he said. Sen. John Barasso is also a doctor. According to a New York Times story on the subject: "Of the doctors elected to Congress, 11 are Republicans and 5 are Democrats. Two serve in the Senate and 14 in the House, 7 of whom are on the three committees preparing a health care bill."

--Ben Pershing


12:16 p.m. | The president just broached an issue where he and congressional Democrats have been a bit disingenuous in recent weeks. To appear bipartisan, they have argued that their legislation does include a version of the longtime Republican proposal to allow people to buy health insurance across state lines. The fact is, what the Democratic legislation provides for is quite different from this in a crucial way, which Obama finally acknowledged here. The Republican proposal is based on the fact that states have widely varying insurance regulation, which means that there are cheap, bare-boned policies that low-risk people can buy in underegulated states but that similarly young and healthy people cannot find in more regulated states. Why not, the Republicans say, let a young and healthy person in New York buy a cheap plan from Texas? The Democratic legislation would allow people to buy coverage on a broader marketplace than what exists today -- a new "exchange" where insurers could offer plans that would be available to people across state lines. But there is a key difference -- to participate in the exchange, insurers would have to conform to minimum standards. Plans would have to offer a basic level of coverage, and insurers could not reject people based on preexisting conditions, as occurs in many states today.

The reason for this approach, Obama said, is that simply allowing people to buy across state lines would result in a flood of lower-risk people buying bare-boned plans in under-regulated states, leaving higher-risk people in the more-regulated states with a smaller, higher-risk pool of insured that would drive rates there even higher. Meanwhile, higher-risk people in the lower-regulated states would still be unable to find affordable coverage. The result, he said, is a "race to the bottom," where states slash insurance requirements and consumer protections so that their insurers can attract healthy customers from other states.

Most health care experts strongly endorse the Democratic approach to broadening the market. But it's wrong for the Democrats to claim it's a close cousin to the Republican idea.
--Alec MacGillis


By my count, at least 20 members of Congress haven't spoken yet. Which raises three questions: 1) Will the speakers after lunch keep their remarks shorter? 2) Will Obama stop responding to each one? 3) Will this summit run way past the allotted time, or will Obama simply end it after some reasonable amount of overtime?
--Ben Pershing


Session 1: Cost Containment

11:59 a.m. | We can't know for sure whether or not he realizes it, but Chuck Schumer just spoke out on behalf of a controversial provision in the Democratic health care legislation that will likely hurt doctors and hospitals in his home state of New York. Maria Cantwell, of Washington state, added an amendment that would send higher Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors that provide better value -- spending less money per patient. This provision was lobbied for by the Mayo Clinic and other hospitals in the Upper Midwest and Northwest that have spend less per Medicare patient. It remains to be seen how the new payment index would be crafted, but in all likelihood it would hurt hospitals in New York City, which have some of the highest spending per Medicare patient. Critics of the revised payment system say it overlooks the higher cost of living in some areas and demographic differences that result in higher medical needs in some places.

Separately, Schumer noted the contradiction between Dave Camp's call to protect Medicare against any cuts and Tom Coburn's declaration that one-third of Medicare spending is waste and fraud. "The Republican Party has always stood for getting rid of waste, fraud and abuse, and all of a sudden now we're hearing, 'Don't get rid of any of that,'" Schumer said.
--Alec MacGillis


11:48 a.m. | McConnell breaks out the numbers: Democrats have spoken for 52 minutes, Republicans for 24. Obama says "I don't think that's quite right," though it probably is. Presumably some Republican staffer is keeping track. But where did McConnell get that info? From his Blackberry? A surreptitious earpiece?
--Ben Pershing


11:44 a.m. | More on Dave Camp's presentation: He is correct that the Congressional Budget Office projects that premiums would be driven up by the richer benefits that insurance companies would be required to provide under the Democrats' bill. However, the CBO also found that the increase would be more than offset by other aspects of reform, including the mandate that everybody buys insurance. In other words, if young, cheap people were to pay into the insurance pool in large numbers, everybody could have better benefits at lower costs.

Worth noting that not everyone agrees with the CBO, but that's what the economic models show.
--Lori Montgomery

11:43 a.m. | There's a bit of contradiction emerging in the Republican ranks -- on the one hand, there's Tom Coburn talking about the need to reduce widespread fraud and waste in Medicare. On the other hand, there are others, such as Dave Camp, arguing against the Medicare reductions in the Democratic legislation -- which are targeted in large part at reducing Medicare waste and fraud of the sort Coburn is railing against.

Camp was correct in noting that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predicted that overall health care spending would increase under the Democratic legislation -- but he did not say what was driving that predicted increase, the fact that more people would be covered and availing themselves of health care. He noted that Texas and California have passed caps on malpractice damages, but those reforms have so far not resulted in any significant reductions in health care costs and premiums in those states -- in fact, it was the 39 percent increase in individual insurance rates in California that has given new fuel to the Democratic legislation.

To his credit, Camp did manage to get to the nut of the previous dispute over the extent of premium increases for individual policy holders under the Democratic legislation -- premiums would increase for some people, he said, because they would be getting "richer benefits" as a result of new insurance mandates in the legislation.
--Alec MacGillis

Rep. Dave Camp -- here because he's the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee -- brings out the GOP's big gun: the need for "responsible lawsuit reform." There has been lots of speculation that Obama would reach out to Republicans by offering to deal on this issue of medical malpractice, but some of Obama's fellow Democrats are wary of giving much away on this point. They argue that lawsuits don't really have that much effect on the cost of health care. Always worth noting here: Trial lawyers are a huge and important Democratic constituency.
--Ben Pershing


11:29 a.m. | Rep. John Kline just spoke. More tidbits from his official bio: "John's son - a father of two - is a helicopter pilot in the Army and has served two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. His daughter is a freelance author, mother of two, and creator of the popular PBandJAHM e-zone, which offers community and advice for stay at home mothers across the country."
--Ben Pershing


11:23 a.m. | It seems that this summit could benefit from having an official timekeeper, or perhaps an orchestra that plays when any speaker goes on too long, like during the Oscars. So far it seems that Democrats have spoken much more than Republicans have. Will the GOP get to make up for that disparity later?

--Ben Pershing


11:19 a.m. | There is some irony in Tom Coburn's emphasis on the amount of fraud in Medicare. The Democrats' legislation relies to a huge degree on savings to be obtained from reducing Medicare fraud and waste. Skeptics, including many congressional Republicans, have noted that past claims to ferret out Medicare fraud have produced little savings. But Coburn seemed to be inadvertently backing up the Democratic case that much money could be made up in this area. Steny Hoyer took note of this in his remarks following Coburn, praising him for drawing attention to Medicare fraud while noting, there is a "very substantial investment in [the Democratic legislation] in doing just what you suggest."
--Alec MacGillis

11:18 a.m. | A follow-up on the question of polling: It is true that polls on Democrats' broad reform plans show a majority of Americans opposed. But it's also true that surveys testing the individual pieces of reform tend to find all of them popular. This survey from last week is a good example of that.
--Ben Pershing


11:10 a.m. | Fight! Fight! Well, that didn't take long, the first clash of the day just broke out, between the president and Lamar Alexander, over whether the Democratic legislation would increase premiums for people without employer-based coverage. Basically, each of the two cherry-picked the data from the Congressional Budget Office report on the issue to suit their argument. The report found that premiums would go up for some people and down for others. Obama got impatient with Alexander for challenging his claim that premiums would go down, and while Obama glossed over the data somewhat, his explanation of the discrepancy in the numbers was basically correct. Premiums will go up for some people who today are able to buy very low-cost policies because they are deemed very low-risk and because they live in states where insurers are allowed to sell very bare-boned policies that are required to cover very little in medical care. But premiums will go down for many of the people who today face very high rates in the individual market because they are deemed to be higher risk. Under the legislation, everyone will be required to buy coverage, which will expand the insurance pool, spreading risk and costs. Insurers will be required to offer a minimum level of coverage. That will mean higher premiums for some people. But they will be getting more coverage for their dollar. And most of them will qualify for subsidies to help them buy the coverage.

Here is the CBO report predicting the cost of premiums under the legislation.

--Alec MacGillis

11:08 a.m. | Mitch McConnell just said of Democrats' reform plans: "If you average all the polls, the American people are opposed, 55 to 37." It's not clear which average he's looking at. Pollster.com's average of polls pegs it at 51 percent opposed, 42 percent in favor. And of course, that mixes together lots of different surveys with varying degrees of reliability, asking the health-care question in different ways.

--Ben Pershing


10:57 a.m. | Harry Reid just mentioned that the House's bill would reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the first 10 years. But the president's proposal released this week would reduce the deficit slightly less, only about $100 billion. That's because it brings in less new tax revenue than the House bill -- instead of a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge on family income over $1million, it relies on a smaller tax increase, applying the 2.9 percent Medicare payroll tax to the interest and dividends earned by taxpayers earning more than $250,000.
--Alec MacGillis


"A senior citizen will tell you what the doughnut hole is," Reid declares. Or you can ask Tim Noah -- he has a handy glossary of health care terms on Slate.
--Ben Pershing


10:52 a.m. | Harry Reid began: "I want to spend a few minutes talking about Nevada." Yes, he is running for reelection.
--Ben Pershing


Lamar Alexander's portrayal of the Democratic legislation was on target in some areas and off in others. The legislation does rely heavily on reductions in Medicare, though his estimate of $500 billion in cuts is overstated -- a large part of those savings are actually in reductions in Medicaid payments to hospitals that see a lot of uninsured patients. He is correct that the legislation could increase premiums for some people, though again overstates the scale of the impact -- the Congressional Budget Office found that premiums could increase for some people who now have bare-boned individual policies, because the legislation would require that the plans insurers sell has a minimum level of coverage. For other people deemed higher risk by insurers, individual premiums will likely fall since they will be included in a larger pool of insured people. (For those with employer-based coverage, premiums are predicted to be little affected by the legislation, at least at the outset.) Finally, Alexander referred to the proposed expansion of Medicaid as the "mother of all unfunded mandates" for the states. But in fact, the president's proposal would have the federal government picking up virtually the entire cost of newly eligible Medicaid patients -- 100 percent of the cost for the first four years, 95 percent for the next two, and 90 percent of it after 2020. That is a far higher proportion of Medicaid costs than it picks up today.
--Alec MacGillis


10:38 a.m. | Since Alexander made the first of what will surely be many references to Democrats using reconciliation to "jam the bill through" via reconciliation, here's a very useful history lesson on the use of reconciliation from NPR's Julie Rovner. Her point: Many major health bills and other key social policy reforms have been enacted via reconciliation. http://bit.ly/bv955e

--Ben Pershing


10 27 a.m. | Lamar Alexander has been a leading voice on the Republican side for incrementalism. His argument is that the White House erred by trying to pass such a big, sweeping reform bill, and so Democrats and Republicans should instead get together and pass popular parts of reform, one piece at a time. Analysts have pointed out that many reform ideas don't really work on their own; they have to be passed altogether in order to make the system work. For what it's worth, Alexander is also more moderate than many of his fellow GOP leaders. He was one of 13 Republicans to vote for the jobs bill that passed the Senate Wednesday.
--Ben Pershing


10:25 a.m. | When Obama referred to the various GOP health proposals, he was making a point about bipartisanship but he also illustrated -- deliberately or not -- a fact that Democrats have been hammering in recent days: Republicans really don't have a consensus plan, they have lots of different plans, and plenty of disagreement within the party.

--Ben Pershing

10:22 a.m.
After reciting a litany of disheartening health-care stories, Obama said: "This is an issue that is affecting everybody. ... Not only those without insurance but those with insurance." From a PR perspective, this point is vital. One reason that polls have generally turned against Democrats' reform plans - experts on both sides agree - is that the vast majority of Americans have insurance, and they are wary that reform will change their current situation for the worse. If Obama does one thing at this summit to help his cause, it could be to reassure that majority that their insurance is not at risk, and reform will make them more secure.
--Ben Pershing


President Obama convenes a bipartisan meeting on health care this morning, bringing together leaders from both parties and members of his administration for a discussion on the key pillars of a plan to overhaul the nation's health care industry. Washington Post reporters who cover the president, Congress, politics and policy will be your guides to the action, offering live analysis and fact-checking starting at 10 a.m. ET.

Watch the action live and join the conversation

By Post Staff  |  February 25, 2010; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Health Care , Live Blog  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Are summit expectations too high?
Next: Follow the #hcr conversation on Twitter

Comments

Thursday’s health care summit was what it was: an exercise in rhetoric. Republicans reprised their familiar routine of propaganda and political theater. Democrats dug in, sticking mostly to the same talking points they’ve been repeating for over a year now. And the President persistently attempted to bridge the gaps and break the deadlock between them, to no avail.

Unfortunately, it was obvious from Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) opening remarks onward that Republicans never intended to have a real conversation about health care. Rather than focusing on areas of potential agreement, like medical malpractice reform, the senator chose instead to misrepresent the facts about health insurance premiums.

Behind a facade of phony fiscal fortitude, the G.O.P. blindly obstructs legislation essential to our economic recovery, hoping that this cynical strategy will return them to power.

Moreover, by repeatedly refusing to engage in a serious exchange of ideas, Congressional Republicans fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth behind health care reform: that it is an economic and social necessity.

Read more @ http://armchairfirebrand.wordpress.com/

Posted by: ArmchairFirebrand | February 27, 2010 5:44 AM | Report abuse

Okay, forget the so-called "mandate" to buy an insurance plan. Just adopt a plan like Virginia's uninsured vehicle fee. You can register a vehicle without purchasing insurance, but you pay a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee to the DMV which provides no insurance coverage. The proceeds could be used to pay for those who want and need health insurance but can't afford it.

Posted by: lpryluck1 | February 25, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

It was their last chance. Republicans brought talking points. They have no interest in governing. It's against their ideology. Government is the problem according to their Saint Ronnie. Well gee, where does that leave America. The rest of the world is getting organized, supporting each others health and welfare and Republicans are arguing about who can be the most extreme, no-nothing no-sayer.

The American People can see bogusness when it's laid out in front of them.

Fear, Hatred, Distortion, Distraction and Division. That's all they've got to offer.

Posted by: thebobbob | February 25, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

ummmm.....has anyone read the bill?

We can tell the cosmetic industry that they cannot use animals in their cosmetics and cosmetics testing---but we can't tell the insurance companies what they have to do????

We can inspect restaurants for adherence to public health policy - so no one gets sick and sues - but we can't tell the insurance companies what they have to do?????

We can require car insurance for all drivers but we can't tell health insurance companies what they have to do?????

We can search everything and everywhere we want if you board a plane but we can't tell health insurance companies what they have to do????

Because repulsives don't want to.
Why?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Aren't the Republicans tired of those same old talking points? The American people are tired of their lies and most of all their efforts to side-line health care reform and other important efforts. They are only trying to undermine the legislative process. Isn't that called treason? If they are so fiscally conservative, why is it our government debt grows uncontrollably under Republican rule? Reagan grew the budget deficit by 128 percent. Our children's children will be paying for Bush's fiscal incompetence for generations.

Posted by: taami | February 25, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Interesting comments. The Obama fans are enthusiastic about him, the teapartiers are enthusiastic about McConnell. Did anyone actually listen to anything with an open mind?

I have children in college, one of whom will age out of family coverage next fall, with most of a year of college yet to come. I'd like to see something come of all this to help her get coverage similar to what she has now without having to spend the equivalent of college tuition on it. It's not Cadillac coverage, but it's probably a decent Buick plan. And who knows when she'll have a plan of her own when no one knows when she'll have a job?

Posted by: vweb_8714 | February 25, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Obama summed up in his own words what he really thinks of the American people...

Democrats will move forward alone, and if the public doesn't like it. Well, "that's what elections are for."

It's a pointless debate as this man is apparently smarter than we are and knows what is best for all of us stupid citizens.

Posted by: jangd | February 25, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

You are tight, hurleyvision. Obama and his comrades will be stealing trillions from us and from our children and grandchildren to fund the Obamacare scam.

They’ll use what they plan to steal from us to pay for the hordes of ACORN-type bureaucrats needed to run Obamacare, to decide if we live or die, and to help them enslave us.

That’s why Pelosi said Obamacare will be “creating” 400,000 jobs right away and millions later on. That’s even worse than the mythical jobs “created” by the stimulus bill in districts that don’t even exist!

Posted by: AntonioSosa | February 25, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

he is rite , that is what election is for they vote for it we vote them out including him . the sooner the safer and better

Posted by: mahye1935 | February 25, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

As we can see, DICTATOR Obama is ready to force us to swallow the Marxist Obamacare scam no matter how much the American people are disgusted with it.

Imitating Hugo Chavez and the rest of the Marxist thugs who are destroying Latin America, Obama wants to take control of everything, including our health care system.

Imitating Hugo Chavez, Obama wants to nationalize everything, including our health care system! "Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama!" Chavez cheered on Venezuelan TV. He added that he and Cuba's Fidel Castro would now have to work harder just to keep up.
http://www.hacer.org/report/2009/06/us-obamas-red-chorus-investors-business.html

Fortunately, as we can see now, most Americans have NOT been dumbed down! Most Americans are NOT sheeple! Most Americans are ready to defend their FREEDOM and the freedom of their children and grandchildren from the abomination of Obama's criminal scams and socialism/Marxism.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | February 25, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Obamacare folks: California will have at least one million people who can't afford insurance or to pay fines. So, California needs big bucks to build jails and prisons and train enough guards to man all of the incarcerated people. Califonia gets first dibs. We need $20 billion right away.

Posted by: hurleyvision | February 25, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Great performance by Obama. Pass the health care bill, NOW! Millions of Americans will benefit by receiving coverage and having their health care costs reduced, now and in the future.

Posted by: dudh | February 25, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

generaldefault:
I agree. Government run health insurance works. To a point of how crooked a state is!!!

Every state already has it, within what is called their "state low income health insurance program". As mentioned, in Arizona, it is called AHCCCS. Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

But there are still "things" wrong with said state programs. Feds give money to States to run their state low income health insurance plans. States sometimes don't use the money wisely.

However, states have this and have had this for years now. It is a fundamental state program, funded by the federal government and said state.

The STIGMA - that runs wide and deep is that these state programs are "low income". They are the programs that everyone biotches about "insuring undocumenteds", etc. etc.. The poor people only.

They are eligibility-based programs. One must be within parameters of the program's eligibility requirements to be "on the plan" (to be insured by the state)
Here in AZ, AHCCCS has 3 plans, I believe, to choose from once eligible.

It is within these "eligibility requirements" - that law can be changed.

Laws and "rules" can be changed by the state that is handling the program, or the feds by a blanket law for all states (for instance - healthcare reform)

States have been having fun for 30 years (last federal law to hit was 30 years ago-of this magnitude)-----
They've been running these low-income programs, taking money, and making laws for their state only but changing eligibility requirements so much that even poor people CAN'T get insured by the state low income program.

It is part of the mess. States NOT administering their low income programs correctly AT the state level.

President Obama has an opportunity to make it federal - that the states start shaping up - and I hope this bill passes.

And for all you repulsives, Baby Bush wanted to do the same thing with the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. He told the states to clean up their eligibility for low income programs or you weren't getting funded at the level you were used to. They did not listen to him. I know my state of AZ did everything possible to defeat what Bush put in place. Because the states did NOT listen to him in 2005, President Bush vetoed SCHIP in 2008 and I was all for it !!!!!


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Mr. President–both the election AND obamacare are over

the republicans appeared extremely competent and coherent

obama was diminished for 3 reasons:

1. not briefed well, slothful prep
2. obama grates over more than 1 hour
3. without the presidential pomp and pagentry, obama is diminished and people realize his incompetence

it is very sobering to realize that if obama is this inept when dealing with foreign leaders it is ominous and dangerous for the united states

obamacare–not just dead–its got rigor mortis

Posted by: ProCounsel | February 25, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

This health care summit was a joke and a waste of tax dollars.. This president is more aggrogant than Bush.. There is no doubt Democrate or republican as well as Obama and his administration are not listening to the people and they never will. They keep on spending,putting more $$ into rich corporate executive hands and the results is nothing more than increasing our debt and increase in taxes.. Obama has no skills or capability of lsitening, we can not afford to have this man 2 terms or even for 4 years!! To control this crazy man, we have no joice but to elect republicans & restore a balance of power!!!This summit & Obama totally useless!!!

Posted by: junebug9257 | February 25, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse


Can I get an Amen !!!

I want to know what and where the "government takeover" of this "government takeover" bill is.

Exactly where in the bill. Exactly what is said to make anyone believe it is government takeover. To lean towards "government takeover".

The Public Option is obviously the easy answer when one may not know realize what this part of the bill means and all it entails, from start to finished product.

Start 'plainin' yourself before you catch on to the
repulsive catch-phrase of the day!!!
Government takeover.

Because I tell ya, I'd love nothing more for the President to give the screws, through law, to
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Prudential
MetLife
Cigna
United Healthcare
Humana
Banner

For all those you denied because of your "policies & procedures". And all those who died.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

People are so misled by gov run health insurance. It works!

Posted by: generaldefault | February 25, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I have never been so prouder of president Obama, he was brilliant, honest, eloquent and lucid in plain English. He made the Republicans lokk what they really are, enemy combatants.

Posted by: postDC | February 25, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Today's health summit was a lot of yak, no jack from the Republicans. They came only to again say "no." The president should have come in with a list of agreements from the get-go, said this is what we are going to pass, and then talked about the specifics they disagreed on. We've heard all of the complaints every Sunday morning for the past year. The Republicans showed today they are not willing to budge and they never had any intention to do so. Yak. Yak. Yak. It's time for reconcliation. Do It! Get it done. And, please Americans, fire those Republicans, and let them go out into the real world without publicly paid for health insurance and discovery what it's all about, since they just don't get it.

Posted by: mountaindonna | February 25, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

The "health care summit" was a sham - "After a brief period of consultation following the White House health reform summit, congressional Democrats plan to begin making the case next week for a massive, Democrats-only health care plan, party strategists told POLITICO."

Exclusive: What happens next
By: Mike Allen
February 25, 2010 10:55 AM EST

After a brief period of consultation following the White House health reform summit, congressional Democrats plan to begin making the case next week for a massive, Democrats-only health care plan, party strategists told POLITICO.

A Democratic official said the six-hour summit was expected to “give a face to gridlock, in the form of House and Senate Republicans.”

Democrats plan to begin rhetorical, and perhaps legislative, steps toward the Democrats-only, or reconciliation, process early next week, the strategists said.

After the summit, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid planned to take the temperature of their caucuses.

“The point [of the summit] is to alter the political atmospherics, and it will take a day or two to sense if it succeeded,” the official said.

Positive statements by Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) of late “are early signs the environment is already shifting a little in favor of revisiting health care.”

Democrats plan to take up the president’s comprehensive, $950 billion plan — referred to on the Hill as “the big bill.” The alternative would be a smaller — or “skinny” — bill that would provide less coverage and cost less. But that would amount to starting the complex process over.

“It’s probably the big bill or nothing,” said a top Democratic aide. “If we don’t get the big bill, I am sure some will push for a skinny bill.”

An e-mail from a House Democratic leadership aide gives a sense of the party’s post-summit message.

“The president walked into a room filled with the entire House Republican Conference. There were no preconditions, his only request was that it be open to the press so that the American people could see the exchange,” the aide e-mailed. “He answered every question with a thoughtful, comprehensive response. He spoke for over an hour and discussed substantive policy issues.

“The president never once worried about it being a trap. He didn’t cry about the room set-up. His conduct reflected someone who was confident in his ideas, respectful of the other side, and not afraid to debate important issues. ... Some Republicans have insulted the summit by calling it a set-up or a taxpayer-funded infomercial. Now we learn they have spent several weeks organizing a rapid-response operation.”

A House Republican aide said this would be the party’s post-summit message: "Americans want to scrap the Democrats' massive bill and start over with clean sheet of paper to work on step-by-step, common-sense reforms that lower health care costs."


-http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=05D69C4A-18FE-70B2-A8DC235AFCA5E7ED

Posted by: anna_78750 | February 25, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Democrats have the ruling majority. They can proceed without Republicans; and as the President said: Elections are for the public to vote their displeasure.

I wait to vote.

Posted by: mil1 | February 25, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I watched most of the summit, and was actually impressed with the potential for agreement among several of the Senators from different parties. The current plans will improve our health care system for all Americans more than any other effort in decades. In addition, it will cut our deficit significantly over the next 10-20 years which is absolutely essential. Adjustments can be made and those were acknowledged by some on both sides who actually are considering the American citizen. Unfortunately, there were a few Senators, John Boehner the most obvious, who stopped rationale discussion in it's tracks with grandstanding and a rote litany of off-topic political positions. Unfortunately, those individuals are holding this country hostage.

Posted by: marciah2 | February 25, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

MacGillis, Montgomery, Pershing, thank you. You did a great job.

Posted by: jp1954 | February 25, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Great job Mr. President. Use reconciliation. The republicans were exposed today.

Posted by: onifadee | February 25, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

"Obama just made a misstatement that he has made before: that there are more people now covered by public programs like Medicare and Medicaid than by private insurance. He used the factoid to argue that government already plays a big role in health care, even before the Democratic legislation has gone into effect."

Really, I've noticed he doesn't really change his position...simply stakes it out, listens to the opponents, and then rebrands or rephrases the position, and creates straw many arguments for his opponents.

This is the least likely person to engage in bi-partisanship....no give and all take!

" | Obama favors individual mandate (the same one he opposed during campaign)
Hillary Clinton, are you watching?

President Obama just delivered a long overdue mea culpa for having opposed an individual mandate for health insurance in the 2008 Democratic primaries, only to have since become a staunch defender of it against Republican attacks/"

flip flopping along......

If there is so much fraud and waste and corruption in health insurance, and medicaid/medicare; how come none of the INSURANCE commissions in BLUE STATES ever reformed regulations enough to reduce it enough to brag about the difference?

If there is so much waste and inefficiency in MEDICAID and MEDICARE how come Al Gore who chaired a major commission was called upon to reiterate the reforms he both ignored and suggested?

Posted by: Common_Cents1 | February 25, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

This was exactly the farce expected. Obama talked wayyyyy too much and the Republicans did not get equal time. They should have walked out.

Only a charade, a boring attempt to soften/sway public opinion and perhaps convince a Republican or two to join the Dems. Also a chance for narcissistic Obama to once again snag the limelight. (yawn)

The One is hell-bent on forcing this agenda, against the majorities wishes, in the vain attempt to create a legacy for himself.

They try to ram this debacle through by reconciliation, and it will prove to be career suicide for many Democrats. November is coming.

Posted by: inmanorj | February 25, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

When some lefty slobbers :

"Seems this summit is stacked so republicans are always made to go first, while dems can sit and rebut and then republicans are not given a chance to comeback with their own comments unless they but in."

He wasn't watching just spamming.

Every rebuttal was done by Obama.

Dem's sat back and watched their leadership suck Obama's teat...and they call this bi-partisanship....what morons!

Posted by: Common_Cents1 | February 25, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

What I find incredible...how many blogs on this site are from organizations in support of Obama. Scary.

Posted by: jobro2 | February 25, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

booster: Protocol. The unwritten language of Washington DC and rightly so.
It's always Mr. President. Anything else (in present company situations) is considered disrespectful of the Highest Office in the Land.
The President (all Presidents) will use first names in responses, as an endearing quality, as a show of friendship and commaraderis.

One must always stand upon the President entering and exiting the room. Hats off.
No crackin' gum. No rambling in your purse or fixing your lipstick.

But as times have passed with the wind, we don't practice any sort of respect for anything any longer, do we?
Gone with the Wind, like please and thank you.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Never have been prouder to have voted a straight Republican ticket for the first time 2008. The person who said that the Republicans are lying during this is quite unaware of the bill and the contradictions Obama has made concerning HIS bill. He hasn't read it! Give me liberty!

Posted by: jobro2 | February 25, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse


--uh, that's not true about the dem rebuttals. It happened.
Dems were responding in the beginning and seemingly "backing the President up". Tit for tat. On Alexander and another one.

This is the reason the President is answering all. He wants to keep this Summit on track.

It would have been a "back and forth shouting match" if he didn't take hold of this.

I can tell by his voice. President Obama is disappointed that the repulsives "came to table" attacking.
They had no intention of talking about aspects of the 2700 page bill for improving healthcare for the common man. The repulsives have only one thing on their mind ---more money for them.

I commend President Obama.
I condemn John McCain. How dare he come off like he did! I'll double my efforts now -that he doesn't get re-elected.
Degrade my state like he does!

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Obama is like a little boy who can't get his way and has had a temper tandrum. What a silly, little Marxist is he. The manchild has always had people go his way, well, not anymore.

Posted by: walterndebby | February 25, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse


Check out my post on the way these legislators have handled the health care problem.

http://independantinvestigations.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/i-will-stop-this-car/

Posted by: Stevehodges | February 25, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

So when this ends we will hear Obama and Pelosi and Reid come out and declare that republicans are unwilling to sign onto their bill hook line and sinker and this will have been a waste of a day and off to reconciliation because Americans are too dumb too worry about what goes on in the Senate, and we'll pass it anyway.
However, it has been obvious Obama does not like any criticism.

Posted by: justmyvoice | February 25, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse


We will cover more people and it will cost less

People who can't afford insurance are dying yet people without insurance are also costing us the most b/c of hospital visits

People with pre-conditions can't get insurance b/c of the cost yet we will cover them all by spreading the risk and reducing cost

People with free insurance will go to the doctor more and increase demand, yet the supply will remain the same, and they get paid less

Posted by: Holla26 | February 25, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse
-------------------------------
Yup -- thems the talkin' points. I didn't realize Wasserman-Schwartz was writing on this blog.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

We will cover more people and it will cost less

People who can't afford insurance are dying yet people without insurance are also costing us the most b/c of hospital visits

People with pre-conditions can't get insurance b/c of the cost yet we will cover them all by spreading the risk and reducing cost

People with free insurance will go to the doctor more and increase demand, yet the supply will remain the same, and they get paid less

Posted by: Holla26 | February 25, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone else bothered by the fact that the invitees are addressing Obama as "Mr President", but Obama keeps calling them by their first names? Shouldn't there be reciprocity of respect?

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Obama has once again insulted Americans...by stating that "we don't care obout the process in the Senate"...referring to reconciliation - when a poll indicates that 52% of Americans OPPOSE using reconciliation to ram this "health care" - Democratic - through.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | February 25, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Helloooo Obama. We ARE interested in procedures inside the Senate. -- pompass as always.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

So! If I am of the new world order how do I most effectively deny you life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Simple. I take away your Creator and make you believe that you are entitled from the efforts of others, through the efforts of the state, to whom you owe all things, thereby securing your vote for me.....and I wipe out all form of liberty and gain control over YOU!


Take the next Constitutional step to regain control of Our government and remain a Free People -

Sign the Articles of Freedom at:

GiveMeLiberty.org

Posted by: AJAX2 | February 25, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Is the deficit commsion going to be televised? I didn't know. Well, that should be entertaining.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

As usual Talking points and no new ideas.

Same old same old.

No one wants to look at the big issues.

ANd that jackasss BOEHNER just has to be a jack asss. He just can't help it. He wanted this meeting and he is reading the same old same old he has SPEWED all year. Then he has to bring up abortion as if this is the only issue our country is facing.

Boehner -Sorry people we can;t discuss healthcare insurance reform because a female will get an abortion.

Posted by: kare1 | February 25, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

VA, NJ, and MA have spoken. Let's wait and see what the rest of the country has to say. In the meantime, gentlemen of the Congress, work hard, work well, represent the people and their best interests, not those of the Federal Government.

Posted by: genefitzhugh | February 25, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

VA, NJ, and MA have spoken. Let's wait and see what the rest of the country has to say. In the meantime, gentlemen of the Congress, work hard, work well, represent the people and their best interests, not those of the Federal Government.

Posted by: genefitzhugh | February 25, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

This is funnier than a HANNITY SHOW.

Posted by: kare1 | February 25, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Mass. currently has gov't healthcare -- statewide (similar to Dems proposed Fed system) -- people who live there are covered by it right now. Someone who lives there can bear witness to it's effectiveness I believe.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

the point of this summit was to come to the table. Leave the guns outside and get some consensus of ....oh, let's say

pre-existing conditions. Think we can do that folks?

He** no, within the first 5 to 10 minutes, it was obvious - repulsives came to attack.

good question President - "why can't we agree"?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

darn tootin scecil!! (rolling)
I am racist. I am against the Mason Templar Great White Way.
It does not work. And I am a Daughter of the Mayflower and Daughter of the Revolution. (all those nice pieces of paper and plaques on walls that this capitalistic nation holds so dear). I was never put on this earth to ONLY procreate.


msjk: You're jumping the gun.
...."Because the Mass law didn't take into account that many of those required to have health insurance would qualify for state assistance in order to pay for it."

The bill has not passed. Your insurance premiums going up is just bluecross blue shield doing it (or any other ins. co. raising rates now--why now?).
Perhaps in anticipation of "something" in the bill.

The Public Option - individuals have to get insurance - yes-they will probably go to their "low income state insurance program". (In bum frick egypt, it is called AHCCCS). However, that is STATE. State funds to administer the public option. Now, most states, like AZ., cannot EVEN administer AHCCCS or their low income program (states take the money -for sure--but you'd be surprised what they end up spending it on).

So feds will give money to states to administer a public option program under the umbrella of their low income program.
Now why can't we do that?

Insurance companies won't make money.

Good question though--- Why are the insurance companies raising rates? The bill hasn't passed. What message is this?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

We need someone who knows how to count to weigh in -- and the CBO is all we've got. But of course any time they've scored a bill -- the reality is always much worse. But that's because the government doesn't know how to handle our money responsibly. So, the bottom line is -- let's not let them.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats are just drifting aimlessly. What is their point in this "summit"? They obviously aren't listening to Republican ideas. This is embarrassing.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | February 25, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

CBO acknowledged they can't even score Obama's "transparent" bill because it's only 11 pages and there are no specifics.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Please, please, don't anyone believe anything positive that any politician says about the Massachusetts mandatory health insurance plan. As a resident of the state, I can assure you that the only people who consider it a success are those who don't have to use it. And as for the statement above that "one particular part of the population has indeed seen a drop in premiums in the Bay State, people without employer-based coverage who buy their own policies"--prices may or may not have gone down, but I can tell you from personal experience (a close friend whose been buying such a policy for years) that it is possible to spend $7000/year on such a policy (from Harvard Health, no less; not "Joe's Insurance, Inc.") and STILL get a letter at the end of the year informing you that you are going to get fined by the state because your policy doesn't meet its "standard for minimum coverage." Whatever that is - it's not widely publicized. And why are insurance companies allowed to sell such substandard policies in the first place?

Posted by: anthony19 | February 25, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

WP, where's the commentary/analysis on Ryan's scathing undressing of the fraudulent numbers supporting the Bill?

A bit of an inconvenient truth?

Posted by: DCer1 | February 25, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

did I miss something?

When did CBO become God?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

All the networks -- even the Obama-loving ones -- have stopped covering this embarrassment. You can only see it on CSPAN.

This administration is amateur hour.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | February 25, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Here's the truth about Health Care reform in Massachusetts. My husband and I live in Boston. In February we received notice from BCBS of MA that our rates would go up 60% beginning March first! Why?

Because the Mass law didn't take into account that many of those required to have health insurance would qualify for state assistance in order to pay for it.

Did the state levy new taxes to cover this? No. So where is the money coming from. Policy holders like me.

Likewise, many of the newly covered actually need medical attention. So instead of getting a pool of insured who pay premiums but don't submit claims. The newly insured are submitting claims.

Who is off setting this cost to the insurance companies? Me.

Yes, extending coverage so all are insured is a good thing. But you have to do the entire job. That means state funds that cover the initiative.

So that the cost doesn't fall on me and others like me.

Posted by: msjk | February 25, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Tom Harkin is lying again ... Just as he says that HE used to fly combat missions over Vietnam which was proved to be a falsehood ... he now says that he used to sell insurance . Right ... Health Isurance if the jelly beans he sold you as a Boy Scout made you sick !

Posted by: lagnafrah | February 25, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Actually the note was from Soros and it said "I'm going to put TheBabeNemo on the Washington Post blog -- and I'll tell him to bring the big guns like profanity, name-calling and racism. That should do it."

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Fletch -- "As an independent, what I would like explained is how, in the middle of a debt crisis (a.k.a. The Great Recession), is increasing spending and the country's long-term obligations (the deficit, a.k.a. the country's credit card bill) going to help?"

OK.

When many American workers do *not* get health treatments now *before* their existing conditions worsen, due to not being able to afford insurance, then....it *costs more over time than treating them now*.

See, health costs are real. When you have workers you don't pay the health care costs for, then the nation *pays later, at higher costs (in the Emergency Room)*.

See?

So, yes, money is an issue. We cannot afford $700 billion a year, 5% of GDP, on the highest rate of defense spending of any advanced nation, while our competitors spend that extra same percentage on education, health care, and other investments in their future ability to have healthy, productive workers.

Posted by: HalHorvath | February 25, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse


during the first 1/2 hour, did you see President Obama get a note?

The note was from Rahm-a-tolla. It said
"so much for Summits".

Repulsives didn't come to this Summit to talk about what can be agreed upon.
The language of Alexander proved it immediately.
Did anyone catch it?

"In YOUR bill Mr. President" "You say".......It was YOU YOU YOU.

That set the tone right there. One would think an elected official, asked to come to a Summit to talk, to come to the table; that the "lashing out" would be out in the parking lot and not at the table.

Perhaps my involvement with the 22 Tribes of Arizona is showing. You invite Tribal Members of a Tribal Council to the "state" table - you honor that.
You do not "diss" !

I am ashamed of our attacking elected officials. In attack mode big time.
No matter who it is, from what state.

We are not in trouble because of money in America.
We are in trouble because of the glimpse of what we have become.
I witnessed how the repulsives lashed out immediately (starting with Alexander) and I tell ya.......We are in trouble because of this behavior. No amount money can change the behavior we are falling into.
As a country. And elected officials are leading the way.

There is no one is this world that can tell me that President Obama isn't trying!
On everything.

BTW, it's hard to get a bill passed when every Repulsive in Congress has been told to vote NO on ANYTHING coming from the White House!!! You know--that house that the brother from Chicago is in!!!
Really gets all the "white boys" goat!!
And it is showing.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

yes we can afford this bill.
the insurance companies cannot.
'cause they would have to enforce policies that would NOT make them so much money.

Seibilus was right. We have insurance company monopolies. It is the true "big Brother" scenario. Only, it's not the government - it's
BlueCross BlueShield
Humana
United Healthcare
MetLife
Prudential

any others?????

Repulsives don't want the Health Exchange (which was the first thing I loved about the bill way back then) -
why?
Because it cuts into insurance company profits and control.

They don't want to change state's High Risk pools (which would be integrated into the Exchange) because insurance companies don't make money --and they would HAVE TO insure "sick people" (preexisting conditions).
Insurance companies don't want to insure sick people. Hmmmm......is that a twisted ideology?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh Geez -- another story from an unamed constiuent. Blah, blah, blah. No farmer is supporting this bill -- I promise you that. But I could name some farmers who'll be voting you out of office come November, Sen. Harkin.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

oh boy, am I havin' fun!

don't get me started on John McCain.
I'm in bum frick egypt. I know this man.
And Kyl...what a joke! Notice how they both "dropped" "in my state of Arizona.
Both these men don't give a da*mn about this state.

And someone please tell the Republicans that Roe vs Wade will never be overturned.
Criminey sakes!!

37 years later and they want to throw out the entire healthcare reform bill because it doesn't have the correct abortion language in it!!!!

"Let's go line by line Mr President"

Yeah Cantor (go dance you jerk) and other repulsives.
So you can get more perks from insurance companies (gotta make sure they vote no on the bill)
So it takes another 10 years for reform while you work on how to keep
rosie the riveter in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.

I'm so sick of the Mason Templar Great White Way FUNDAMENTALS in the repuslive "philosophy". Idealology THIS repulsives.

They were loaded for bear at this Summit. Came out with attacks right off the bat. The repulsives didn't come to talk, they came to degrade.

why? could it be that President Obama is a brother from Chicago?

I am ashamed of John McCain being from my state and "dissin" the President like he did.
I apologize for him folks.
Then I will kill him.


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | February 25, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

You see a lot of Dems in these threads justifying more government spending by pointing to Bush's excessive spending.

As an independent, what I would like explained is how, in the middle of a debt crisis (a.k.a. The Great Recession), is increasing spending and the country's long-term obligations (the deficit, a.k.a. the country's credit card bill) going to help? I could care less whether a Repub or Dem ran up the credit card bill, what I want to see is a plan to pay it before we or, more unfortunately, our kids have to declare bankruptcy (as a country, of course).

I voted for Obama because he promised change, but all I see is a continuation of Bush's run-away spending.

Posted by: Fletch_F_Fletch | February 25, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

WE CAN'T AFFORD IT!

It's simply true. We're in the middle of a recession. Obama's like a teenager in the mall with his dad's credit card. Cut the card up. No new spending until you slash the current spending.

Step one for healthcare reform: attack the massive fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare. Do that, then look at spending some of the money you save.

WE CAN'T AFFORD IT!

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | February 25, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey, let's see who comes back from lunch slurring. That'll be a fun game.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The individual mandate is the centerpiece of the Mitt Romney/Scott Brown approved Massachusetts model, and Romney defended it vociferously as governor, explaining that it costs much more for us to take care of people when they are not insured than it will cost to get everyone insured. Why isn't Obama quoting him on that point and putting that issue back to the Repubs?

Posted by: fmjk | February 25, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse
-----------------
And Mitt can keep dreaming about 2012 'caus it aint happening. I have a friend who is from Mass and LIVES in NYC who didn't get pregnant immediately and said "I'm going to 'go home' to get IVF because they cover it there. Isn't that great!" All the states that have the most gov't health insurance are suffering hugely economically for it.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

In case the readers here are relying on the posts of Pershing and MacGillis to keep them abreast of things...

They forgot to mention that Obama had a "my bad" moment during the morning session...he had to acknowledge that Sen. Alexander was correct, the cost of most individual plans will INCREASE by 10-13%, not decrease.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

The Iraq War has cost $708 billion to date...the cost of both wars, to date, is $256 billion. Collectively that is LESS than the health care plan on the table.

______________

OOPS! meant to say that the cost of the Afghanistan war is $256 billion, and that collectively that is less than $1 trillion...

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

With regard to the cost issue, reforming healthcare will cost about $1 trillion, five times less than what the war in Irag has cost to date. That war is a huge part of the national debt. Which investment/debt will yield to a higher quality of life for our children/grandchildren? Those fically responsible conservatives aren't yelling and screaming about the burden of the war on future generations.

Posted by: dotbombus
___________________

So, you're saying that the Iraq war has cost $5 trillion to date...

WRONG!

The Iraq War has cost $708 billion to date...the cost of both wars, to date, is $256 billion. Collectively that is LESS than the health care plan on the table.

Check the facts: Costofwar.com

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

And here's an Econ 101 issue that I don't think has been adequately explained either: There is a finite amount of health care (e.g., doctors) and the government is seeking to expand coverage (demand) by 30-40 million people. Exactly how are rates not going to increase via basic supply and demand principles?

Posted by: Fletch_F_Fletch | February 25, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

So Cantor's argument is we need to kick this can down the road some more? Time's up. He wants to kick it down the road because he wants Medicare to go bankrupt. He wants Social Security to fail. He wants all the gov't programs to fail. So if that's what you want then listen to him. If it isn't ignore him.

Posted by: kchses1 | February 25, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Obama was talking respectfully enough that finally Eric Cantor just blurted out the *nub of the issue*:

"We just can't afford it."

Since reform would subsidize premiums for lower and many middle class households, and only wealthy households would pay on net for reform at about $100 billion per year, this "can't afford it" must refer to the entire Federal Budget, and the deficit.

But in the Federal Budget we are paying about $700 billion right now, in one year, on defense, while our active enemies number in the thousands...

5% of GDP.

Contrast: China, the most significant military spender after the U.S. has upped it's defense spending greatly is gauged by experts to be spending about 2% of GDP (which is more than their official number).

That 3% of GDP difference could actually sink the American future. China will use that 3% on productive investment, like education and science and non-military technology.

http://findingourdream.blogspot.com/2010/02/eric-cantor-fingers-key-sticking-point.html

Posted by: HalHorvath | February 25, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Requiring everyone who drives to obtain car insurance, I understand -- in exchange for the privilege to drive on government built and maintained highways, the government can impose certain obligations upon the driver. What I fail to understand is how the government can require the young and healthy to buy health insurance that they deem they do not need to reduce the premiums for the old an infirm. Moreover, how many healthy, uninsured are out there that making them buy coverage is going to significantly reduce premiums for the older, sicker in the population?

As a young, independent voter, I feel that no one has adequately explained why I should be forced to buy health care so that someone's grandpa can get a break on his premiums.

Posted by: Fletch_F_Fletch | February 25, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Uh, bama, I hope that while you're eating your tax-payer paid buffet lunch you take a look at the TV real quick, but just to clue you in:
- almost 500,000 1st-time unemployment claims last week
- the stock market is tanking as you speak
Just thought you'd want to know...

Posted by: civilemik | February 25, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

All the Ron Paul blog rats are here with their usual attack and tear down nonsense. But now they just sound foolish.

Posted by: dudh | February 25, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

And how much does Soros pay you, dudh?

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The individual mandate is the centerpiece of the Mitt Romney/Scott Brown approved Massachusetts model, and Romney defended it vociferously as governor, explaining that it costs much more for us to take care of people when they are not insured than it will cost to get everyone insured. Why isn't Obama quoting him on that point and putting that issue back to the Repubs?

Posted by: fmjk | February 25, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Everyone at the table agrees we need health reform but the Republicans, in my opinion, haven't offered up any concrete solutions on how we should do that. We all can go in that room and criticize what's already on the table. If I go to a meeting at work and all I do is critique what's on the table, my boss will ask what I recommend we do. If my answer is that I know what we should do but will discuss with him privately, I'll get laughed out of the meeting. If Republican objections are philosophical/ideological, then the meeting is a waste of time. Republican ideology sholdn't always prevail.
With regard to the cost issue, reforming healthcare will cost about $1 trillion, five times less than what the war in Irag has cost to date. That war is a huge part of the national debt. Which investment/debt will yield to a higher quality of life for our children/grandchildren? Those fically responsible conservatives aren't yelling and screaming about the burden of the war on future generations.

Posted by: dotbombus | February 25, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Cantor just PWNED Obama. That was embarrassing.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | February 25, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

All the Ron Paul blog rats are here with their usual attack and tear down nonsense. But now they just sound foolish.

Posted by: dudh | February 25, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Another Repub heard from. Eric Cantor. He told Obama to start over again. This seems to be the Repub strategy for today's meeting. He is the sixth Repub to tell Obama to go back to squaare one. This is a repub rope-a-dope strategy. Obama, don't fall for it. Ram it through via reconciliation.

Posted by: joseph_charles | February 25, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I know lots of people who are at small businesses who are already doing the health savings accounts with high deductible insurance combo and it is so awesome. The companies save money and the people get bigger pay checks as a result. They can go to any doctor. If freelancers could get into an private association to do the same thing it would be great!!

Posted by: scecil1
____________________

Again, I agree completely!

Democrats don't seem to understand that high deductibles LOWER health care premiums, which means a savings to business. High deductibles FORCE PEOPLE to shop around for the best price. Shopping around initiates COMPETITION.

We moved to a high deductible, HSA plan two years ago, and it was the best thing we ever did. For a family of five, we were paying $1500 per month for insurance, with no deductible. Now we're paying $750 per month for a great plan with a $5000 deductible. Even if we have to ante up the entire deductible (and so far we haven't even come close!), we still save $4000! Plus we've saved on income taxes due to the weekly HSA contributions we make PRE-TAX.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

SHUT UP OBAMA already with your nutty hypothetical crap. Let's talk about the exact policies you want to legislate. No kidding that even just handling the fraud and abuse in Medicare would be a substantial bill in itself. YES -- that is what we are saying -- just do one thing at a time!! That is what we are saying. Can you hear? -- I guess not because you won't stop telling silly stories!! "My wife has breast cancer, I lost my job, my kid has acne, and my uncle has a club foot..." STOP!

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"McConnell breaks out the numbers: Democrats have spoken for 52 minutes, Republicans for 24. Obama says "I don't think that's quite right," though it probably is. Presumably some Republican staffer is keeping track. But where did McConnell "


Okay, really?!? Okay yes the time should be divided evenly - fair enough. But bringing this up is a meant to distract away from what’s important. Now they have their straw man, "it wasn’t fair, we didn’t get enough time." These people need to man the you know what up! Stop crying all the time and get the job done.


Posted by: doesntmatter
__________________

Obama admitted later that he didn't take into consideration his own time speaking...because, he said, "I'm the President".

Sound familiary?

He's clearly spending A LOT of time defending the democrat plan, so there should definitely be some equity here. I see zero bipartisanship effort on his part. In fact, he's looked to pick fights with people a couple of times.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

But here's the thing: after seeing today what six hours of on-camera bipartisan health care negotiations actually look like, how many people out there are going to be wishing that they'd months and months of this?
--Alec MacGillis

Come on Alec! This is nothing like what Obama and his cronies were doing behind closed doors! They're playing to the camera like John Gotti did in public!

Posted by: jamespmarion | February 25, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Why do people still do the whole "in Europe the healthcare is great..." thing? Even the Dems try to brush off the concept that their plan is anything like Europe's, because they know we (the voters) think it stinks and don't want it. In fact they say that when some critics compare the Dems plan to Europe that those critis are just using "scare tactics". Yes we are are scared of having European health care. So, what loon is still using the argument that Europe has great healthcare?? Oh, and P.S. Europe is even more broke that WE ARE -- due to gov't programs like universal heatlthcare. So, it's a double stinker and we'd rather not, thanks.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

In the name of the American people will the republicans stand up and walk out! We DO NOT want the democrat plan!

Posted by: jamespmarion | February 25, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I know lots of people who are at small businesses who are already doing the health savings accounts with high deductible insurance combo and it is so awesome. The companies save money and the people get bigger pay checks as a result. They can go to any doctor. If freelancers could get into an private association to do the same thing it would be great!!

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Mcain wants Obama to start over again !! Obama, do not do it. He is trying to do a rope-a-dope on you as his Repub friends are tryoing to do also in their previous comments today. You will be in the same place you are a year from now if you start again. Repubs are the "hell no" party. They are owned by the insurance companies and banks.

Mcain STFU. You lost. Live with that fact.

Posted by: joseph_charles | February 25, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

NYC has some of the best doctors in the world -- none of these Medicaid patients (who are depleting the states coffers) can see these doctors -- unless they are teaching at a clinic for the day. Gov't insurance is SOOO BADDDD for the patients and SOOOOO EXPENSIVE for the government. We can't remain stupid about this. We can't expect that if the Fed takes more insurance it won't be a million times worse. The people know. These politicians don't know because they can go to any doctor any time no matter what.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"McConnell breaks out the numbers: Democrats have spoken for 52 minutes, Republicans for 24. Obama says "I don't think that's quite right," though it probably is. Presumably some Republican staffer is keeping track. But where did McConnell "


Okay, really?!? Okay yes the time should be divided evenly - fair enough. But bringing this up is a meant to distract away from what’s important. Now they have their straw man, "it wasn’t fair, we didn’t get enough time." These people need to man the you know what up! Stop crying all the time and get the job done.

Posted by: doesntmatter | February 25, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

CNN, no fried of Republicans, is reporting that only 25% of Americans want the Democrats to pass their health care bill:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/02/24/cnn-poll-health-care-provisions-popular-but-overall-bills-unpopular/?fbid=GtDGla5p1GM

What will it take for the leftist imbeciles to understand WE DO NOT WANT THEIR SNAKE OIL!

These monsters are committing political suicide.

2012 cannot come soon enough.

Posted by: DCer1 | February 25, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"The reason for this approach, Obama said, is that simply allowing people to buy across state lines would result in a flood of lower-risk people buying bare-boned plans in under-regulated states, leaving higher-risk people in the more-regulated states with a smaller, higher-risk pool of insured that would drive rates there even higher."

That's like requiring people with good driving records that drive cheap cars to buy more expensive auto insurance in order to make auto insurance for the 19 year with 3 DWI convictions cheaper. Idiots!

Posted by: ahashburn | February 25, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The bad news: it's obvious Obama intends to ram through a bad bill that will socialize American healthcare -- a bill crafted in secret with no input from anyone who disagrees with Karl Marx.

The good news: we'll have time to clean up this mess when the Republicans take over. And passing this bill will guarantee the Republicans do take over.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | February 25, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

IS HEALTHCARE A FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE?

There several fundamental issues are related in “free-society living”.
We should consider first the essentials of living: food, clothing & housing and then healthcare.

In a democratic-free society, every human being should have the freedom to choose and select the style that they would like to live-on within their means. Economically poor should get some assistance from the Society through their Government. In this society we provide, food stamps, welfare, and help in housing for needy as judged by standard set-up by the Government. Even in healthcare we provide “charity-care” those who cannot afford. Hospitals will not decline the Emergency Care.

Government does not have the right or means to provide equal food, clothing, housing or healthcare for every citizen. Obama administration is trying to provide EQUAL HEALTHCARE for everyone by taxing others. In other words Government wants to give “EQUAL HEALTH CARE” for everyone as the fundamental right mentioned in the
Constitution. If and when the Society decides to do that, they must change the constitution first and declare USA is a SOCIALIST STATE.

Healthcare is not a fundamental right like other needs of living in a free society. Administration must know that along with supporters of the HealthCare bill.
manixthoughts.blogspot.com

Posted by: madayilnair | February 25, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Sheesh Obama sure likes the sound of his own voice.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | February 25, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Lets face the FACT: Republicans are utter complete lying lunatics, that is they say they want to "reduce the Deficits", "they are worried about the debt bomb..", etc. But if you really want to really reduce the Deficits then you would be for greatly reducing health care costs which means then you would be for Universal single payer health care.

Because in every European country, Canada, Israel, etc. whom have single payer health care, health care on average is taking about 9% of the GDP, while the US for profit health care is taking 18% of the GDP, here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Canada

How is it that Universal nationalized single payer health care will SAVE us about 50% compared to the current for profit health care system WHILE giving every American free or very affordable health care like $59 per month as in Canada, for the Taxes that we (already) PAY? Answers:

1st- The way Universal Nationalized Health Care is operated in Europe, Canada, Israel, etc. is the same way we operate the Military, Police, Fire Department, Courts of Law, etc. etc. in US. That is these important services are paid for mainly from our Taxes, and the salaries of people involved in them is set by our Government (Federal or State). So the same way that our Government sets the salaries of a 4 Star General or an Admiral or a Federal Judge is the same way that the Governments in UK, Israel , etc. sets the salaries of Doctors, Nurses, etc. working in their Universal Nationalized Health Care system.

2nd- No one working in the Universal Nationalized Health Care system will be able to get paid $50Mill per year and fly in $100Mill private Jets as is the case with the top brass of the Big Pharma, Big Insurance, etc. in the US. And equally as important, No Health care provider can go public and thus generate 100s of Millions of Dollars in listing fees for the Wall Street bankers and pay 100s of Millions of Dollars per quarter to the Wall Street gang in the form of dividends, preferred shares, etc.

More here:
http://anoox.com/blog/UHC.38349

Posted by: RealNews1 | February 25, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Wow, this is boring. Talking points on both sides. It's obvious this is all for show -- 5 hours of blather that will be distilled down to 20 seconds for the news tonight. Then the Democrats go ram through their plan. Why did the Republicans agree to this nonsense?

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | February 25, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

WILL OBAMA STOP TALKING BETWEE EACH!? PLEASE! He thinks we love to hear him talk -- who keeps telling him that?

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

AS USUALLY THE MEDIA GOT IT WRONG AGAIN...

THIS SUMMIT IS BIG TIME BORING...

AND I HOPE OBAMA STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM THE BILL...HE KNOWS NOTHING OF DRAFTING BILLS

DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS YOU WON...

WITHOUT THE HELP OF THIS ADMINISTRATION..

YOU WILL KEEP YOUR SEATS...

HOWEVER WE WILL REPLACE A NAIVE PRESIDENT AND HIS F@CKING RETARD OF A FRIEND RAHM!!

Posted by: dove369 | February 25, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"The public is clearly opposed to the Democrats’ health care bills. Americans want to scrap these big-government plans and start over with common-sense, incremental reform." -Sarah Palin
---
http://www.WasillaTeleprompter.com

Posted by: michaelniland | February 25, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse
________________________-

A TELEPROMPTER IN WASILLA -- DOES SARAH PALIN HAND WRITE THE PAPER?? (taking the days story off her palm)

Posted by: kare1 | February 25, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Who is Ben Pershing? Is he part of the Obama Administration?

Posted by: MickPack | February 25, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Basically the deal is the Repubs do not want a giant bill, but let's handle one issue at a time in small pieces of legislation. Why a big phony bill (which is likely laced with the stepping stones of a gov't take-over of healthcare and a giant increase in the defecit). The Dems keep saying "we agree -- we have that in the bil to everything the Repubs say". The point is -- NO BIG GIANT MESSY bill. Small tranparent little actions is what people want. I would love the Repubs to clearly state this and not let those phonies keep telling their stupid little stories of "there was a guy who needed to get a wart removed..." etc.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

What a waste of time. Start all over!

Posted by: jamespmarion | February 25, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"Fight! Fight!"??? Please! Don't make a silly game of this. I heard the interchange you refer to and it was pretty civilized. This is too important. Why does the media have to reduce everything to a street fight? I know it's all fun and games for some of you but it affects lives.

Posted by: bowmanrand1
_________________

I agree completely. And I'll add that Sen Alexander was extremely gracious in allowing the President to save face and avoid an argument on TV...although Obama has since called it an argument on at least two occasions.

Is it just me or is the President seeming to be off balance today? I'd say he's not at adept at this topic as he should be. He's also playing defense on every comment made by REpublicans, which looks very partisan on his part. And then no one gets to refute the President, so it appears his word is the truth of the matter...many times, that has not been the case.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I think both parteis are being very polite and this is a very good exercise for the citizens to see. However, the Rebubs will leave after the meeting and go very negative.

I think the President is going to have to ram this through via reconciliation to get it done by the end of Summer. The Democrats are going to lose seats in the Fall any way because of the economy that the Bush/Cheney administration left the country with so the Dems might as well get this done while they have the numbers for reconciliation.

Posted by: joseph_charles | February 25, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Wow. They couldn't find objective reporters at the Post?

The actual summit is significantly more interesting than the slanted coverage here.

I thought that there might be some additional useful information here, but apparently not.

Posted by: postfan1 | February 25, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

OK Tom Coburn did dicuss cutting Medicare fraud -- 1 our of every 3 dollars -- this is evidence of the inability of government to do anything without waste fraud and abuse (so why take on more). He also says lets analyze this and go after it and cut it. This does not contradict other REpub arguments about "not cutting Medicare". There are saying the Dem plan has the gov't beuracracy (not legislators, not people, not any audit analysis that TRULY tackles the waste fraud and abuse)to RANDOMLY or in whatever way suits them (which CBO believe is likely not at all) -- anyway according to the Dems plans the Feds are supposed to randomly make big cuts in Medicare to "pay for" the giant government expansion to "cover" everyone else (which is doesn't even do). So, that is wha the Repubs are saying 1) they want to cut Medicare to pay for the big bloated plan 2) they are going ot have the Medicare beuaracracy figure out how to do that, not do it in an effective way as Dr. Coburn points out 3) CBO has doubts they'll even do it, so there goes the deficit (even more). AND Coburn and Repubs would like Congress to do small little bills like -- lets deal simply, first with legislation (or hearings or an audit) to first and by itself dealing with cutting the waste of $1 of every $3 in Medicare. I don't know if I made it clearer with this long blog?

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Save the snarky comments for Facebook, Washington Post writers. Do your job and report, I'm embarassed for you.

Posted by: RRoodho | February 25, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

In other words, if young, cheap people were to pay into the insurance pool in large numbers, everybody could have better benefits at lower costs.

This is FALSE. If young, cheap people were to pay into the insurance pool in large numbers, everyone EXCEPT young, cheap people will have better benefits at lower costs. Young, cheap people will either have better benefits at HIGHER cost. Or the same benefit at HIGHER cost.

Posted by: quandary87 | February 25, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"Fight! Fight!"??? Please! Don't make a silly game of this. I heard the interchange you refer to and it was pretty civilized. This is too important. Why does the media have to reduce everything to a street fight? I know it's all fun and games for some of you but it affects lives.

Posted by: bowmanrand1 | February 25, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I don't care which party it is! Will the President scrap it all, grab a sheet of paper and start asking for ideas?
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"The public is clearly opposed to the Democrats’ health care bills. Americans want to scrap these big-government plans and start over with common-sense, incremental reform." -Sarah Palin
---
http://www.WasillaTeleprompter.com

Posted by: michaelniland | February 25, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

The overall picture that this event may show America is how dysfunctional congress has become. Example, Obama says sky is blue, Repubs say, not at night it isn't, and America disagrees with you Mr President, polls show they 57 per cent of Americans don't think that that the sky is blue at nighttime. And so on.

Posted by: rkerg | February 25, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Before McConnell gave the numbers, I knew it was totally uneven -- primarily because Obama is blah blah blahing and because they are cutting off the repubs but not the Dems. And McConnell only did that because Harry Reid wha wha wha'd "I might not be an expert, but I know a filibuster." So, there you go.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm been on both public and private insurance. Let me tell you this -- public insurance is great in that it is free or cheap (in some states you can get subsidized gov't insurance if you have OK income too). HOWEVER, they STINK -- they don't pay for anything, no doctors take it -- you end up in clinics or emergency rooms anyway because no legitimate office will take you. So, if all our insurance becomes like medicaid, CHP, family health programs etc., then no body good will stay a doctor or become a doctor -- they will do research, retire, become academic, or open a privat business of some other type (or cash underground operation). So our care will become terrible. Don't let them fool you -- private insurance companies may sometimes give a hard time covering patients, but in my experience, they are soo much better to the doctors and the patients then public insurance (even when the feds and states outsource to private programs -- it's the same as gov't medicine. Trust me -- you DO NOT WANT THIS.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Another dog and pony show with ponies sadly outnumbered. We all know where we need to go. If we got rid of legalized slavery we can get rid of a healthcare system that allows reasonable access to care to those with most money. Remember slavery, sexism, Jim Crowism, lynching, school segregation all had significant support within the halls of Congress.

Posted by: Draesop | February 25, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

There's a bit of contradiction emerging in the Republican ranks -- on the one hand, there's Tom Coburn talking about the need to reduce widespread fraud and waste in Medicare. On the other hand, there are others, such as Dave Camp, arguing against the Medicare reductions in the Democratic legislation -- which are targeted in large part at reducing Medicare waste and fraud of the sort Coburn is railing against.
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No contradiction, Alec....the Medicare cuts in the bills reflect both issues...the entire amount is not waste, fraud and abuse...a good chunk of it is a reduction in Medicare Advantage subsidies. Each gentleman is discussing each facet of planned Medicare reductions.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

is this reporting or chearleading?

Posted by: batigol85 | February 25, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Blah blah blah blah -- Obama, you're time is DEMOCRAT time so shut up and moderate!!!!

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Ben Pershing...please check out the facts on tort reform or malpractice law suits. The Dems are correct that they don't make a dent in lowering costs. It has nothing to do with who the trial lawyers back. And, without trial lawyers, big business would run rough-shod over consumers.

Posted by: jillcohen | February 25, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Paul Ryan just hit the nail on the head!!! But now we have to hear some stupid drawn out YARN from Mister I can't help but Blah Blah Blah Obama.

Posted by: scecil1 | February 25, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Shouldn't Hope & Change and "Yes We Can" be enough to offset this?:

Always worth noting here: Trial lawyers are a huge and important Democratic constituency.

Posted by: TheDubb | February 25, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

There is some irony in Tom Coburn's emphasis on the amount of fraud in Medicare. The Democrats' legislation relies to a huge degree on savings to be obtained from reducing Medicare fraud and waste. Skeptics, including many congressional Republicans, have noted that past claims to ferret out Medicare fraud have produced little savings. But Coburn seemed to be inadvertently backing up the Democratic case that much money could be made up in this area. Steny Hoyer took note of this in his remarks following Coburn, praising him for drawing attention to Medicare fraud while noting, there is a "very substantial investment in [the Democratic legislation] in doing just what you suggest."
--Alec MacGillis
______________

I believe Tom Coburn's main point was that these are things we could be doing tomorrow...heck, if there's really that much waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid, why are we letting it occur today?!?! Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse will generate savings and, quite frankly, doesn't require a big piece of legislation to implement...it just requires better oversight on the part of the gov't.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Well AMERICA, hereeee We go again. Both sides Talk-Talk and who wants to bet, will get next to NO Where. ha! -- Right off the bat, both sides Yap about Prevention. What a JOKE! -- i (jward52) have repeatedly, for 2+ years been outlaying the Fact that the #1,- #1 most needed, and Important PREVENTATIVE Is proper "DENTAL & ORAL" Health Care!! - EACH $1 WILL RETURN- at a Minimum $3-4!! -- So this is a 'NO-BRAINER'.-- Except, those discussing 'Prevention', are still proposing No-Brainer DEAD Do-Little Band-aid preventions!! -- Still, both Reds & Blues,- in bed with INSURANCE & $SPECAIL INTERESTS!! -- wITHOUT ""DENTAL"" then this so-called Health Reform Bill,- IS STILL the 'SAME-OL' SAME-OL' DISEASE & SICKNESS PLAN!! -- Right off the bat, WE-the-People listening to this so-called Health Summit, right NOW, - are hearing the same CRAP again!! -- $$WASTE, FRAUD, and still NO Real PREVENTATIVES at all!!! -- The ittsy-bittsy preventaives the REDs & BLUEs are offering are still the 'Same-Ol' --JOKE of continuing DISEASE & SICKNESS, -- and Nothing to treat and/or stop the CAUSE!!! -- Why aren't some of us WE-the-People (jward52) at this so-called Health Reform Summit??- Easy Answer-- We/I might suggest something that WILL WORK,-- and that Will $Save Money,- and that Will PREVENT DISEASE, - and definately end some of the $FRAUD, WASTE, ABUSE, and INSURANCE GREED SICKNESS POLICIES!!! -- Just a word from a Citizen whom cares. CONGRESS needs to grow up, and start honoring their' OATHs-of-Office!!! --- CONGRESS does NOT work for the $Special Interests! - NO WHERE in My/Your CONSTITUTION does it read:- 'we-the-TOOO-$BIG-Insurance-companies', nor 'we-the-corporations', nor 'we-the-WALLsters', nor 'we-the-$BANKsters', nor 'we-the-toooo-Big-PHARMAS!!!!! --- jward52

Posted by: jward52 | February 25, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Under the legislation, everyone will be required to buy coverage, which will expand the insurance pool, spreading risk and costs."

__________________

This is an assumption, not fact. It's very possible that people will opt to pay the penalty and forego buying any insurance at all, knowing they can get in at anytime and not be penalized, because of community rating.

WaPo really should have used more objective commentators for "44" today, of all days.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Harry Reid just mentioned that the House's bill would reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the first 10 years. But the president's proposal released this week would reduce the deficit slightly less, only about $100 billion. That's because it brings in less new tax revenue than the House bill -- instead of a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge on family income over $1million, it relies on a smaller tax increase, applying the 2.9 percent Medicare payroll tax to the interest and dividends earned by taxpayers earning more than $250,000.
--Alec MacGillis
__________________

To be clear, we don't actually know what the President's plan will cost because it has not been scored by CBO. The numbers presented anywhere are merely estimates.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 25, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Just got back from paying $70 x2 at a minute clinic at a CVS to get a strep test. Bluecross/Blueshield POS doesn't cover them and my wife and I just had our primary care physicians drop Bluecross in the past month. Our family of four has no serious illnesses or conditions, pays over $12,000 a year in health insurance including dental, and has still had to pay over $1000 in health care costs and over $1000 in dental costs.

When I was a healthy single man I had no idea the costs were so exorbitant. Ironically, this is the year when the importance of thoughtful, comprehensive health care reform was brought home to me, not by politicians, but by the prices we've had to pay this year for a season of strep, colds, and ear infections.

Posted by: minorthread | February 25, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"The public is clearly opposed to the Democrats’ health care bills. Americans want to scrap these big-government plans and start over with common-sense, incremental reform." -Sarah Palin
---
The Post's Twitter feed is censored.
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http://www.WasillaTeleprompter.com

Posted by: michaelniland | February 25, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Watching this it is easy to come to the conclusion that much of the problem is Harry Reid, he does not have a bipartisan bone in his body. In the opening speeches each person presented a reconciliatory tone; Obama, Alexander, Pelosi etc. Then when it was Reid's turn he want right after Alexander and essentially called him a liar. The President missed a bipartisan moment, he should have told Reid to zip it.

Posted by: ACertainFlorentine | February 25, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Just finished more closely reading the comments above - is this supposed to be a neutral analysis or purely democratic spin? Seems the comments from the WP writers are definitely pro dem and anti republican

Posted by: justmyvoice | February 25, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Seems this summit is stacked so republicans are always made to go first, while dems can sit and rebut and then republicans are not given a chance to comeback with their own comments unless they but in.
It also to me was disgraceful that Obama and Reid have basically in polite terms called Alexander a liar. Not too good for me to see this as an independent.
Seems this is republicans give your ideas, then we'll shoot them down and then we can say you have nothing to offer. This is nothing more than a stage show the way it has been set up.

Posted by: justmyvoice | February 25, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Pershing, are you seriously suggesting the American people are not against the Dems' bill/proposal?

My gosh, can the WP's "Live Analysis" be any more slanted towards the pig Democrats?

2012 cannot come soon enough.

Posted by: DCer1 | February 25, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"The public is clearly opposed to the Democrats’ health care bills. Americans want to scrap these big-government plans and start over with common-sense, incremental reform." -Sarah Palin
---
http://www.WasillaTeleprompter.com

Posted by: michaelniland | February 25, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

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It's hard for the GOP to keep up with their lies... that is why they are walking contradictions.

Thank you Mr. President for televising this.

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Posted by: A-Voter | February 25, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

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It's hard for the GOP to keep up with their lies... that is why they are walking contradictions.

Thank you Mr. President for televising this.

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Posted by: A-Voter | February 25, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

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It's hard for the GOP to keep up with their lies... that is why they are walking contradictions.

Thank you Mr. President for televising this.

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Posted by: A-Voter | February 25, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

After hearing the constant stories from Obama and others about how people are suffering and dying because of our present health care system, I notice that not one such story is ever told about how any president, any senator, any house member or any governor has experienced the same kind of suffering. Every citizen should have the kind of insurance they have.

Posted by: mafox1 | February 25, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

The only thing these guys and gals know how to do is attack each other.
12.3 trillion in debt
104 trillion in unfunded mandates

Posted by: EliPeyton | February 25, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

In addition to his negative body language when Senator Alexander was speaking, Obama then chastized him for going over his allotted time. That was shortly after Obama's negative body language when Alexander asked the democrats not to use reconciliation.

Posted by: mafox1 | February 25, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't believe it when Alexander said -- "as they say in Detroit, we have a better idea." A perfect analogy. We all know where Detroit's "better ideas" have led over the past decade. The Republican ideas that Alexander listed would take us down the same road -- not giving people what they really need.

Posted by: rlkinny | February 25, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

That the GOP has picked hard-core conservatives to attend this even shows they are not serious about cooperation and that this even will ultimately be a failure, which is exactly what the GOP needs.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 25, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Obama finally shuts up. He has nothing to add to this debate other than hot air.

Posted by: bruce18 | February 25, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse


Should we have Health Reform or Insurance Reform? Vote

http://www.youpolls.com/default.asp
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Posted by: usadblake | February 25, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

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