White House Restates Focus on Passing Health Reform This Year
On Thursday, the Obama administration reiterated its belief that comprehensive health reform legislation will be enacted this year, despite recent setbacks, The Hill reports.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, "I don't think it's a surprise that this is going to take some time to do" because health reform is "an issue that we've been discussing for 40 years so the president isn't pessimistic about being able to get this through Congress this year." He added, "There are a lot of moving parts and this is going to be a long process. It's not going to be solved in a matter of weeks or a matter of just a couple weeks."
Gibbs' statements come at the end of a week that saw Democrats reacting to a $1 trillion cost estimate for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's draft legislation, as well as "opening attacks from powerful interest groups" and "great uncertainty" among Democratic leaders about what a final reform bill will include, The Hill reports (Young, The Hill, 6/18).
In a meeting Thursday, President Obama expressed his concern about the Congressional Budget Office's scoring of the HELP draft bill.
An administration adviser speaking anonymously said, "That is not [Obama's] idea of good, affordable, universal coverage," adding that the CBO estimate has "rattled everyone."
However, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said that while the estimated $1.6 trillion cost of the Senate Finance Committee's reform bill "is a big number, â¦ [e]verybody now is going to take these bills back and come in below $1 trillion" (Connolly, Washington Post, 6/19).
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "There will be a lot of times when it appears that everything is falling apart," but, she added, "Anytime specific legislation is crafted, there's something to hate about it" (Sack, New York Times, 6/18).In an address before the Democratic Leadership Council, Sebelius said, "The cost of doing nothing will render us a second-rank nation on into the future," adding, "Our businesses can't afford it, our families can't afford it and, frankly, we can't sustain it." She also said that Obama believes reform should not add to the federal deficit (Alexander/Smith, Reuters, 6/18). 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.