Obama Readies Health Overhaul Proposal Ahead Of Summit

Are we the only ones wondering what took the Obama administration so long to lay out its own blueprint for a health overhaul bill?

At a media briefing on insurance rate hikes Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said it's finally coming and will be posted on the Web before the bipartisan health summit meeting set for Feb. 25.

Details, at this point, are sketchy, with Sebelius saying in response to questions that the "framework" would combine the "best ideas" from the two bills that passed the House and Senate.

The administration's proposal is being written so that it can piggyback on a budget bill to skirt a potential GOP filibuster in the Senate, the New York Times reports.

The budget reconciliation process, explained here, has been used to pass big, non-budget legislation in the past, including welfare reform back in 1996.

Going the reconciliation route is risky, but the political risks for Democrats of failing on health care could be worse come midterm elections in November, some lawmakers say.

As Rep. Henry Waxman, a powerful California Democrat, told NPR's Robert Siegel after the president's State of the Union address:

I would say to those members that are most worried about [reelection], their districts are the ones that would benefit the most with this health insurance bill because invariably those districts have the largest number of people that are uninsured.
[T]hey are not going to get reelected based on going home and telling people: I voted against health care and we got nothing done. I don't think people are going to say: That's great, I think you are exactly who I want to be in government because you cant get things done.

Not everyone is convinced that's the case. Indeed, polls have shown growing dissatisifaction with the president's handling of health overhaul.

With those ill winds blowing, Politico reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid don't "know if they have the votes to pass a reconciliation bill."

Update: The Plum Line blog says the Obama proposal is "all but certain to have the Cadillac tax" and won't have a public option.



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