California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Touts Backing for Health Reform From Schwarzenegger, Others

In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, President Obama said the recent calls for action on health care reform by prominent GOP members -- mostly former members of Congress and White House officials -- represent an "unprecedented consensus" on the need for a health system overhaul, the New York Times reports (Stolberg, New York Times, 10/11).

Those who have expressed support for health reform include California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), and former HHS Secretaries Louis Sullivan and Tommy Thompson (Gerstein, Politico, 10/10).

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and four former surgeons general last week also issued statements supporting health reform. According to the Times, the White House "has been pressing Republicans who are in favor of passing health legislation to issue the statements and circulating them to reporters."

Obama said, "The distinguished former congressional leaders who urged us to act on health insurance reform spoke of the historic moment at hand and reminded us that this moment will not soon come again," adding, "They called on members of both parties to seize this opportunity to finally confront a problem that has plagued us for far too long" (New York Times, 10/11).

In addition to the officials and lawmakers, Obama said the consensus "includes everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers" (Lester, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/11).

Obama also touted the Senate Finance Committee's reform bill, saying that it "will bring greater security to Americans who have coverage, with new insurance protections," adding that "by attacking waste and fraud within the system, it will slow the growth in health care costs, without adding a dime to our deficits" (Koffler, Roll Call, 10/10).

LeMieux Delivers GOP Response, Calls for Restraint

In the Republican response to Obama's address, Sen. George LeMieux (Fla.) said the Democrats' health reform approach would reduce Medicare funding, require states to take on billions in new funding obligations and increase health insurance premiums. He said, "We in the Congress have a duty to tackle this problem, but the solution we settle upon should not be rushed, and the solution should not be worse than the problem we are trying to solve."

LeMieux also highlighted some of the issues that Republicans would like to see in the reform legislation, such as provisions that make health coverage more portable, eliminate wasteful spending and fraudulent activities in Medicare and address the practice of defensive medicine (Burns, Wall Street Journal, 10/10). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.