President Barack Obama’s health care reform initiatives have been thwarted. When he recently announced a bipartisan summit for healthcare reform, both republicans and democrats admitted that there is very little hope for any resolution to result from a get together that lasts less than a day. After all, the standoff has been going on for more than a year now. Before anybody even arrives at the summit, it is obvious that both parties remain in states of heavy opposition. And of course, both parties also profess their willingness to compromise. The healthcare reform summit will take place on February 25.
While Obama would like nothing more than to arrive at the summit with an all inclusive agreement between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the odds are stacked against it. On February 8, House republican leaders presented democrats with a lengthy list of direct questions that they want answered. They want these answers as soon as possible so that they can consider their approach to the sit-down at the Blair house. One key question that they ask is if Obama is willing to give up any plans of reconciliation in order to pass a health care reform bill with only 51 votes.
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An excerpt from the letter reads, “If the starting point for this meeting is the job-killing bills the American people have already soundly rejected, Republicans would rightly be reluctant to participate. “Exasperated Washington participants are wondering how a singular bipartisan meeting, nationally televised, will actually be able to be effective at generating any resolution. The majority of those questioned believe that it is simply a another democratic attempt to make and republicans appear unwilling to cooperate and compromise. Rep. Tony Weiner said, “Good luck with that. The GOP has been the ‘party of no’ all year. Republicans have made a tactical decision not to cooperate, and they’ve even called health care reform Obama’s Waterloo.”
Primary considerations for healthcare reform:
Health Care reform issues that Americans want answers to now:
- How can health care coverage be feasibly expanded for all Americans?
- How can the country afford to provide quality medical care coverage for all citizens?
- How will health care spending be controlled over time so that it is sustainable?
- What will be done about providing coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions?
- How will Americans respond to having the purchase of medical care coverage mandated:
- How can insurance claims be standardized in order to reduce the amount of paperwork and administration necessary to incorporate inclusive coverage?
- What program for premium subsidization will be initiated for low income and uninsured individuals?
The costs of health care reform:
- Experts estimate that providing health coverage to all American citizens will cost a minimum of one trillion dollars over the next decade;
- More than $200 billion will be added to the national deficit;
Possibilities for revenue generation to cover the costs:
- Increasing taxes for individuals making more than $250,000 per year;
- Increasing taxes for families making more than $350,000 per year;
- Increasing taxes on tobacco, sugary soft drinks, alcohol and other excise items;
- Putting a cap on employer tax credits for health insurance provision;
With all of the increased taxation plans considered, the amount of revenue generated would still be quite insufficient to cover the costs. And then, we get back to the beginning: democrats and republicans have to come to an agreement – a definitive agreement that represents the viewpoints of all simultaneously. So in effect, the most recent advancements in health care reform from Washington are very few indeed.