President Obama says he is incorporating the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans in his health care proposal some of which were put forth by Republicans in last Thursday's health care summit. The President says both sides agree that the current system doesn't work and needs to be fixed. It's how to fix it that seems to be the problem. President Obama told an audience of doctors and nurses dressed in their white coats "we agree that if we do nothing - if we throw up our hands and walk away - it's a problem that will only grow worse."
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) completely disagrees with the President's assessment. "You can't add a couple of Republican sprinkles on the top of a 2,700 page bill and claim it's bipartisan," Representative Boehner said Wednesday morning. Those "sprinkles" include a proposal to expand health savings accounts as well as allowing insurance companies to sell high-deductible policies. Plus, the President expressed interest in a proposal by GOP lawmakers to increase payment to doctors who treat Medicaid patients. And Republicans want to include language to investigate health care providers who perpetuate fraud involving Medicare and Medicaid coverage.
Mr. Obama agrees that this bill does not include everything Republicans want and even challenges Republican members of Congress to vote against it. "If they truly believe that less regulation would lead to higher quality, more affordable health insurance, then they should vote against the proposal I've put forward," Mr. Obama said in his remarks.
In an interview with Fox News,House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) says the administration is just not listening to the other side. "We've got proposals on the table. We have consistently said sit down with us," Cantor said on Fox News Channel Wednesday. Cantor called a last minute effort to "throw a few Republican proposals" in the bill "unacceptable." Cantor said both sides need to agree on how to bring down costs. "If we want bipartisanship we ought to be looking to see where the American people are."
The White House does not see a reason to start over on this bill, even if there are party disagreements. "Given these honest and substantial differences between the parties about the need to regulate the insurance industry and the need to help millions of middle-class families get insurance, I do not see how another year of negotiations would help," the President said. A Fox News poll released on the day of last week's health care summit showed fifty-percent of those questioned wanted their government to do nothing about health care at this time while a slightly lower percentage (46%) wanted changes passed this year.
President Obama is not waiting and urged Congress to schedule a vote in the next few weeks. White House officials would not predict if there would be an outcome before the President leaves on his scheduled overseas trip Australia, Guam and Indonesia at the end of this month.