Rodham Clinton, Gingrich Call for Bipartisan Efforts on Health Care Reform
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on Thursday "seemed very much on the same page" in their positions on health care as they appeared together at the National Press Club at a forum aimed at promoting a bipartisan health care reform, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Mondics, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/22).
Speaking at the "Ceasefire on Health Care" forum organized by American University and sponsored by Pfizer, Rodham Clinton and Gingrich called for the creation of bipartisan coalition devoted to health care legislation (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/22). Former Senator John Breaux moderated the discussion.
Gingrich and Rodham Clinton called for a national electronic health records system (Martinez, Knight Ridder/Charlotte Observer, 7/22). Gingrich endorsed a bill being developed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) that builds on health care IT legislation sponsored by Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.). He also praised Wednesday's approval by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee of compromise health IT legislation (S 1418) (CQ HealthBeat, 7/21).
The legislation includes provisions of a bill (S 1355) co-sponsored by HELP Chair Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and committee ranking member Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and a measure (S 1262) co-sponsored by Rodham Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) (California Healthline, 7/21).
Gingrich said, "There is a real chance that this could well be a year of more significant infrastructure legislation in terms of health than any time we've ever seen," adding that he expects the House will act this year on Hastert's bill (CQ HealthBeat, 7/21).
Rodham Clinton and Gingrich said that insurance companies should be required to use a standard claim form, which they said would save billions of dollars (Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/22). Rodham Clinton said if employers refused to participate in insurance plans that did not adapt a standard claims form, "you'd see change in a nanosecond." In addition, she said covering the uninsured is "a real conundrum," but that requiring individuals to purchase insurance would be unaffordable and would lead fewer employers to offer health insurance benefits.
Noting that health care costs are the number one "issue that employers talk to me about," Rodham Clinton said the current system of employer-based health insurance "is not sustainable in the global economy." Clinton did not offer a specific plan for covering the uninsured, but said there currently is enough money in the health care system to cover the uninsured with the right incentives on allocation of funds (CQ HealthBeat, 7/21).
Gingrich -- "[w]ith [Rodham] Clinton nodding in support" -- endorsed mandatory daily physical education and healthy foods in schools and a "transfer of finances" from rich to poor, the Washington Post reports. Rodham Clinton also expressed approval of Gingrich's statement that the government should "voucherize Medicaid" (Milbank, Washington Post, 7/22).
Gingrich criticized the Congressional Budget Office's conclusions on the costs of implementing a national health care IT system, saying CBO also should consider the savings health care IT will generate in the long-term (CQ HealthBeat, 7/21).