President Obama will announce Wednesday a new way forward on health care, less than 10 days after his first offer on a way forward on health care hit a wall in a bipartisan, bicameral meeting last Thursday, and the White House is saying this is the final act.
In a move the White House hopes will break a partisan logjam, but that some Republicans have already dismissed as too-little-too late, President Obama Tuesday told congressional leaders he’s willing to expand four GOP ideas to comprehensive health care legislation.
The four areas are: medical malpractice reform, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, health savings accounts and reimbursements to doctors under Medicaid, ideas proposed by Republican Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Richard Burr (R-NC), Charles Grassley (R-IA) and John Barrosso (R-WY). But President Obama did not include every idea from Thursday’s meeting. He specifically said his proposal does not include “provisions that were added to the legislation that shouldn’t have been” including the Medicare Advantage provision Senator John McCain (R-AZ) mentioned at the meeting and a provision for Nebraska, and also known as the “cornhusker kickback” originally written into the Senate language to secure the vote of Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE).
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs did not offer full details of the Wednesday event but according to Fox News Senior White House Correspondent Major Garrett, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi already has an idea of what the bill will look like, including it being a “much smaller” bill than the House passed legislation. For its part, the White House says Wednesday’s announcement will not be a major re-write of the proposal, and would not commit the idea of a “plan b” or slimmed down version, but it is believed that the White House proposal will closely resemble the Senate version, which had differences than the larger House bill. Gibbs says the President has been directly involved in the plans and will continue to work on health care.
At a meeting with reporters, Gibbs said regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s remarks, the President is keeping health care on the front burner.
“He will be obviously very involved in whatever happens next,” Gibbs said. “ I’m not going to get ahead of what happens next but we wouldn’t be where we were if it wasn’t for the Presidents involvement. We'll leave processes until after the President’s announcement, but I think he has been enormously involved.”
Melody Barnes, a top domestic policy adviser in the White House, told Fox last week there had been some unification around certain reforms that she believes will be included.