March 5, 2009

Summit on Health Care Reform Kicks Off With Many Participants, Agendas

The White House convenes its summit on health care reform today. It will be shown on C-SPAN starting at 1 p.m. (EST). HealthReform.gov will also provide a webcast.

Around 120 lawmakers, insurers, doctors and advocates are expected to attend. C-SPAN published the full list (pdf) of participants and attendees.

The House’s leading advocate for single-payer universal healthcare, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, finally got an invite, as did Dr. Oliver Fein, president of Physicians for a National Health Program. Earlier this week it didn’t look like single-payer advocates would have a seat at the table. (Read more about singe-payer health insurance.)

Some of our colleagues taking part include Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation; Marcia Greenberger, president of the National Women’s Law Center; and Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families.

The NPWH created an action plan for health care reform (pdf) that addresses a wide range of issues, including expanding use of health information technology; removing barriers to reproductive health care; comprehensive sex education; expanding and protecting the Family Medical Leave Act; and equal pay/pay discrimination. Specific advocacy actions are referenced for each issue.

The Washington Post today has a front page story on support for President Obama’s plan for overhauling health care coming from some unlikely places — insurers, hospitals and other powerful groups in the medical lobby.

“The lure for the industry is the prospect of tens of millions of new customers: If Obama succeeds in fulfilling his pledge to cover many more Americans, those newly insured people will get checkups, purchase medicine, undergo physical therapy and get surgeries they cannot afford today,” write Dan Eggen and Ceci Connolly. They continue:

To start the process, Obama has proposed a $634 billion health-care reserve fund that would be partially paid for with targeted cuts in payments to insurers, doctors, hospitals, drugmakers and other providers, and he has vowed to fight attempts to water down the package.

The unstated intention of Obama’s approach is to dole out the pain in small, easier-to-swallow bites to minimize opposition, White House aides say. Under the president’s plan, hospitals, doctors, drugmakers, insurance companies and wealthy seniors — all of whom will be represented at today’s summit — would sacrifice. But if the system was calibrated properly, no one would lose too much.

Not everyone is happy, of course, and lobbyists and health-care experts warn that major obstacles lie ahead. The seniors lobby AARP, for example, opposes Obama’s recommendation to raise Medicare prescription premiums on wealthy retirees. Major insurers also dislike his proposed overhaul of the Medicare Advantage program, which markets managed-care plans to seniors, while home-care providers object to cuts to their Medicare reimbursements.

Johanna Neuman at the L.A. Times looks at Obama’s political maneuvering and whether he can succeed where the Clinton adminsitration failed. Scroll down for the text of Obama’s afternoon address.


2 Responses to “Summit on Health Care Reform Kicks Off With Many Participants, Agendas”

  1. Judy Meredith Says:

    great post with lots of info. Thanks

  2. Christine C. Says:

    You bet! We’ll have more on Friday.

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