President Obama signaled Sunday he is not ready to let the issue of health care reform go away, planning a meeting at the White House with both Democrats and Republicans later this month to discuss the issue. He also promises it to be more open and bi-partisan.
The president said he wants " to consult closely with our Republican colleagues" and ask them “to put their ideas on the table,” during an interview Sunday with CBS News anchor Katie Couric.
This is the second day in a row the president had pushed the issue of health care reform moving forward, having just told Democrats at a winter meeting Saturday in Washington, “So just in case there's any confusion out there, let me be clear. I am not going to walk away from health insurance reform.”
When asked if inviting the GOP to the White House meant the president was going to start at square one, the Mr. Obama responded, "I think that what I want to do, is to look at the Republican ideas that are out there, and I want to be very specific, how do you guys want to lower costs, how do guys intend to reform the insurance markets so people with pre-existing conditions for example can get health care...and if we can to step-by-step through a series of these issues and arrive at some agreements, then procedurally there's no reason why we can't do it it a lot faster than the process took last year."
Senior officials tell FOX News' Senior White House Correspondent Major Garrett that the president had made the decision on the bi-partisan, bicameral health care meeting before the State of the Union address. He worked with his top speech writer to build a "preview" in the address.
The White House will not discuss the goal(s) of the health care talks or what affect, if any, they will have on the final health care bill or the schedule for passage of a reform package.
Officials also tell FOX that President Obama did not call GOP leaders to discuss the renewed health care talks, but deferred to legislative staff to reach out to Republican leadership staff.
The half-day bipartisan session will take place Feb. 25 and will be aired live on television, according to the Associated Press. It was not immediately clear if it would air on C-Span. The president repeatedly on the campaign trail said that health care negotiations would be televised on C-Span, something his critics have pointed out means breaking his promise and the pledge of a more transparent government.
Republican support is something the president needed after losing the supermajority Democratic vote in the Senate after Republican Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s seat in a special election in Massachusetts last month. Mr. Brown ran his campaign touting he would go to Washington and vote against President’s Obama’s health care reform. He was seated as the 41st Republican Senator last week.