Thursday, March 5, 2009

Obama Convenes Healthcare Summit

“Healthcare is the message of the day at the White House -- and if President Obama succeeds in an overhaul that helps many of the 47 million Americans without insurance -- could be one of his signature achievements. Obama is convening a summit this afternoon with about 150 elected officials and representatives of groups that have much at stake in the outcome -- and that helped kill the last attempt at an overhaul during the Clinton administration 16 years ago. ‘The Forum will bring together the people who have a stake in our health care system and the people who have the ability to change it; those who worked to pass health care reform a decade ago and those who worked to defeat it,’ the White House says in a background paper. ‘Learning the lessons of past efforts, the President is starting by bringing diverse and bipartisan stakeholders together for a substantive and transparent discussion consistent with the principles he has laid out,’ the background paper says. ‘Participants will be asked to work together and offer up ideas to bring down costs and increase coverage for all Americans. The President will ask for the best ideas and the best ways to make reform happen. While the people around the table – Republicans, Democrats, insurance companies, labor, doctors and patient advocates – may not agree on everything, having them around the table is a critical, but first step in this process.’ While some skeptics say healthcare is too heavy a lift during a deepening recession, Obama argues that the skyrocketing medical costs make reform essential to the recovery. In his proposed budget, he set aside $634 billion over 10 years for an initiative that many analysts say will cost more than $1 trillion. The president plans to make opening remarks at about 1 p.m. Then, the participants will break into small groups for discussion. Obama plans to make closing remarks about 4 p.m.”

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