It’s on: Watch the theatrics of health care “summit”

That highly touted bit of political theater — the health care “summit” — is on. At the end of the day, we’ll know how well the GOP fared in the theatrics by how much attention the commentators on Fox News give it. Fox didn’t air much of last month’s Q&A between Obama and House Republicans — a sign that the GOP-leaning network thought the prez did better than Republicans.

From the NYT:

The starting point in the debate is this: Mr. Obama and the Democrats argue that comprehensive legislation is needed to provide nearly universal health insurance coverage; Congressional Republicans say the nation cannot afford to broadly expand coverage and should work incrementally to control costs.

In recent days, each side has sought to build strategic advantage.

Mr. Obama released his own legislative proposal, built largely on the bill adopted by the Senate on Dec. 24 but also incorporating a number of changes designed to appeal to House Democrats. At the same time, the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats have taken aim at the insurance industry, highlighting huge premium increases proposed by Anthem Blue Cross in California. The House also adopted a standalone measure to repeal the exemption from federal antitrust laws that the insurance industry has enjoyed since 1945.

The Republicans, in turn, have sought to portray the forum as “political theater” and have insisted that Mr. Obama’s proposal shows that Democrats have already prejudged the outcome of today’s debate and that they have no intention of fundamentally altering course.

Republicans, including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the House leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, have called on Mr. Obama to discard the plan unveiled on Monday, as well as the bills adopted by the House and Senate late last year, and to start over.

The Republicans rejected a challenge by the White House that they produce a unified, comprehensive plan. Instead, they are focusing on a handful of steps that were included in a House Republican bill that was offered in November and easily defeated.

Among the Republican proposals: allowing small businesses to band together to purchase insurance at lower costs; permitting the sale of insurance policies across state lines; expanding state high-risk pools to offer coverage to people who otherwise cannot obtain it; and limiting medical malpractice lawsuits with caps on damage awards.

The Democrats will seek to portray the two sides as largely in agreement in the broadest issues in the debate: the need to slow the growth in health care costs; to cover the uninsured; to improve Medicare and Medicaid; and to promote wellness programs and preventive care.

But in terms of addressing those shared concerns, the two sides are oceans apart. Republicans are unwilling even to consider some ideas that they have championed in the past because they say the nation cannot afford the changes now.

The acrimony was evident Wednesday on the House floor, when Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, criticized Republicans for opposing the repeal of the antitrust exemption for insurers, shouting, “The Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.” Enraged Republicans demanded that he withdraw his remarks and accused him of violating the rules of the House.

Mr. Weiner then asked for unanimous consent to withdraw and substitute his remarks, which the Republicans granted. Mr. Weiner then thundered: “Every single Republican I know is a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.” He ultimately did withdraw the comments.

If the two sides could put aside the political imperatives of the moment — which they seem unable to do — the forum could focus on any number of critical policy questions that experts, including health care economists and leaders in the heath care industry, say could improve the legislation.

Experts generally agree that the Democrats’ legislation, while making a substantial start, still does not do enough to reduce health care costs for all Americans, especially the majority of people who already have insurance through their employers. Executives of some of the nation’s top hospitals say the legislation could still do more to encourage wellness programs and preventive care, especially when it comes to combating obesity.

53 comments Add your comment

Turd Ferguson (Cynthia Tuckers Original # 1 fan)

February 25th, 2010
10:55 am

Combat Obesity? Hmm…eat less might be a start.

Bubba

February 25th, 2010
11:01 am

We’ll know how well Obama fared in the theatrics by how much attention the commentators on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC give it.

Granny Godzilla

February 25th, 2010
11:04 am

This is a big chance for the GOP.

I suspect they’ll blow it.

Scout

February 25th, 2010
11:04 am

Yes ………. the theater of the absurd.

Peadawg

February 25th, 2010
11:05 am

“Congressional Republicans say the nation cannot afford to broadly expand coverage and should work incrementally to control costs.”

Good idea! Why can’t Democrats understand this?

demwit

February 25th, 2010
11:12 am

WHERE’S THE CHANGE!?

Shawny

February 25th, 2010
11:14 am

There is nothing wrong with starting over with the bill. And in doing such, eliminate every reason that someone has to vote against it. Strip away the Nebraska and Lousiana pork projects. Eliminate anything that doesn’t have to do with adding coverage or reducing costs. Make it real, and it will pass.

demwit

February 25th, 2010
11:20 am

Look at the way Obama sits and listens so attentively.., what bipartisan leadership!!

Peadawg

February 25th, 2010
11:22 am

Cynthia, since when is health coverage a right? I haven’t seen that in the constitution.

Turd Ferguson (Cynthia Tuckers Original # 1 fan)

February 25th, 2010
11:23 am

demwit

Kinda like placating you mean?

Reality

February 25th, 2010
11:28 am

Bubba: LOL! So EVERY other news station is behind Obama except for FOX? There is NO other that simply reports what is? Wow!!!

Road Scholar

February 25th, 2010
11:29 am

1 hour and 20 minutes in, finally a discussion of specific issues…letting businesses band together to jointly buy HI to get the price down. What about individuals? Why can’t they band together?

Interesting point is that the Repub House and Senate leadership defered to Lamar Alexander to make their case… McConnell and Boehmor are useless! Pelosi and Reid led the Demo side.

Reality

February 25th, 2010
11:32 am

Peadawg says ….. “Congressional Republicans say the nation cannot afford to broadly expand coverage and should work incrementally to control costs.”

Good idea! Why can’t Democrats understand this?

I say: This is another ploy by the republicans. The plan is to REFORM health care, not necessarily to EXPAND coverage. Republicans again want to accuse others and criticize about something NO ONE has proposed.

Peadawg

February 25th, 2010
11:35 am

Reality, so the purpose of the public option is to reform health care? Not expand coverage?

Jess

February 25th, 2010
11:37 am

Cynthia,

I think the theatrics have been going on for quite some time. Once again this morning, Obama is saying to the repubs, if you have good ideas I’m willing to sit down with you at any time. Now he has said this on many occasions, but when meetings have been requested, no meetings occured. It was all for the audience.

Last week, at a press conference, Mr Gibbs again repeated the mantra that republicans had no real plan. He said Obama had put his plan on a web site so everyone could see it. He then said the president would encourage the republicans to do the same. The fact is the republicans have had such a web site for quite some time, and Gibbs knew this.

All of this has been theatrics from day one.

Peadawg

February 25th, 2010
11:39 am

the fraud database seems like a good idea.

citizen

February 25th, 2010
11:41 am

I am watching the Health Reform Summit and I truly believe that the ONLY asset President Obama has on this issue is that he won the Presidential election. He is so full of hot air and shows just how uninformed he is.

Peadawg

February 25th, 2010
11:42 am

obama giving more time to democrats than republicans…how bipartisan!!!!!

Curios

February 25th, 2010
11:53 am

Cynthia,
I have a question that I would love for you to answer. Would you insure a house if you knew the following facts:
1. The foundation was cracked.
2. It was infested with mold
3. It didn’t pass electrical code.

Personally, I wouldn’t so why should the government force insurance companies to insure people who are already sick. It is the exact same principle. Insurance coverage, home auto, health etc, is not a right period. It is not in the contitution and is outside the legal bounds of the federal government.
Go ask any doctor what is the leading unnecesarry expense is in their practise and it is unsubstaniated malpractise insurance claims. Doctors and insurance companies spend millions a year defending cases that have no basis, and when it is thrown out, the insurance companies still foot the bills on the legal fees. If Obama and congress enacted a law where the losing party in any insurace case had to pay for the legal of expenses of the winning party as well, insurance costs would drop drastically without so much as a needle prick of government intervention into the entire system.

Turd Ferguson (Cynthia Tuckers Original # 1 fan)

February 25th, 2010
12:00 pm

Curios

We have to be fair. Remember when you were about 4 and didnt get your way? “wwwaahhhh…thats not fair”. Most Americans/dummycrats are just lazy bedwetters and whiners that need a visit to the woodshed.

Road Scholar

February 25th, 2010
12:11 pm

Turd: Is “dummycrat” your fair and unbiased name for republicans? Because of healthcare costs most can’t afford a woodshed!

Curios

February 25th, 2010
12:20 pm

Why don’t you answer my question then Road Scholar, its only one post above turd’s.

Fang1944

February 25th, 2010
12:21 pm

Shawny
February 25th, 2010
11:14 am

There is nothing wrong with starting over with the bill. And in doing such, eliminate every reason that someone has to vote against it. Strip away the Nebraska and Lousiana pork projects. Eliminate anything that doesn’t have to do with adding coverage or reducing costs. Make it real, and it will pass.

———————————————-

The Nebraska and Louisiana pork have already been removed.

Bubba

February 25th, 2010
12:32 pm

Yes, curios, and after the Democrats get this passed, we can wait until we have alzheimer’s to purchase long-term care insurance, and — best of all — our families can wait till we die, and then purchase life insurance! What a beautiful thing!

Robert

February 25th, 2010
12:33 pm

Spot on Miss Tucker – this can be sent straight and unedited to Comedy Central. I hope they find time to break for lunch soon as this appears to be a lot of “heavy lifting”

Jack

February 25th, 2010
12:38 pm

Obama gives theatrics a rich, new meaning.

demwit

February 25th, 2010
12:40 pm

Wow! When did those dirty Republicans come up with reform ideas!?

Oh wait..

demwit

February 25th, 2010
12:41 pm

And wheres Obama’s Greek pillars!? They are a fine representation of the Greek economy we are striving for..

Jess

February 25th, 2010
12:42 pm

Fang1944,

Yet the $60 billion union exemption from taxes on high end plans remain.

Kamchak

February 25th, 2010
12:46 pm

Curios

February 25th, 2010
1:26 pm

Actually Bubba, I have figured it out. Insurance companies are going to be forced to be not for profit when the government takes over because “How dare insurance companies make profit off our health and well being”. Then insurance will be run just as well as social secur…. o wait..

Bubba

February 25th, 2010
1:31 pm

I’m afraid, Curios, that you’ve hit the nail on the head. Except that they won’t actually forbid them to make a profit, they’ll just make it impossible for them to make a profit. And so then the government will be “forced” to take over. For the good of the people, of course.

Turd Ferguson (Cynthia Tuckers Original # 1 fan)

February 25th, 2010
1:43 pm

“For the good of the people, of course.”

And the children…Dont forget the children!!

“For the good of the people and the safety of the children”.

Turd Ferguson (Cynthia Tuckers Original # 1 fan)

February 25th, 2010
1:45 pm

Isnt it funny that after one graduates high school if one goes immediately to work then one is considered an adult yet if one attends college one is considered a student/non-adult.

“OH MY GOD…those poor poor students…?

Bubba

February 25th, 2010
1:47 pm

And if you oppose this plan it will be because you don’t care about children. Or people in general.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 25th, 2010
2:00 pm

Cannot speak about Fox News, but Limbaugh’s comments suggest it is going really badly for the president. Limbaugh just apologized to his audience for his error, that he urged the republicans to boycott the meeting. Limbaugh is ebullient about the back and forth.

Jess

February 25th, 2010
2:19 pm

I’m reading a book now by a Harvard economist. He says that the US government by all measures is now bankrupt. There is no way even in the near term or the long term that it can be demonstrated how they could meet their current obligations. This is only if you include current entitlements, service on our debt, and necessary govt. obligations under the constitution. Any individual or business in a similar circumstance would qualify for bankruptsy.

On the other hand, America itself it not bankrupt it is in a recession, however barring further pressures it come survive. This being said, it is highly likely in the near future the government will be forced to suck the wealth out of our private economy just to stay above water.

And we are talking of adding another trillion dollar entitlement program.

Reality

February 25th, 2010
2:22 pm

Limbaugh is critical of Obama? Really? Wow – now THAT is news!

Curios

February 25th, 2010
2:29 pm

So I guess Cynthia doesn’t respond to questions in which the answers don’t line up with her political stances…

Capital Rage

February 25th, 2010
2:30 pm

The paradox of US healthcare is that patients don’t have access to a single doc.

Peadawg

February 25th, 2010
2:36 pm

Reality, no response to my 11:35 post?

Granny Godzilla

February 25th, 2010
2:44 pm

Limbaugh…..tee hee hee

Scott

February 25th, 2010
2:44 pm

Peadawg, Don’t hold your breath on a response from (far from) reality. He is only going to focus on semantics of a word instead of a real issue.

Scott

February 25th, 2010
2:52 pm

This whole summit, like his jobs summit and like his beer summit, is nothing more than a total sham. I mean….he makes it seem like Cantor is doing something wrong by printing out all 2400 pages of the bill and bringing them to the meeting. It’s funny; he wants to hold a summit to discuss the issue that all 2400 of those pages is about (Just for Reality…psssst……it IS about a government TAKEOVER of the healthcare system. I know you don’t want to believe it, but if you actually read the approved bills, everything is about that very thing.) but then wants to say you shouldn’t bring a copy of the bills with you. Really??

Granny Godzilla

February 25th, 2010
2:53 pm

I see the GOP is keeping the fact checkers workin’ up a sweat….it’s actually quite funny.

Peadawg

February 25th, 2010
2:58 pm

“.it’s actually quite funny.”

Hearing uh uh uh uh Obama uh uh uh uh w/out uh uh uh his uh uh uh uh teleprompter? You’re uh uh correct! It’s absolutely hilarious!

Capital Rage

February 25th, 2010
3:05 pm

Cynthia Tucker: Do you really believe the country can afford universal healthcare? Another trillion dollars?

Shouldn’t we concede that the trillion dollars we might have had available is being poured down a hole in the desert sand of Iraq and Afghanistan?

Shouldn’t you grow up and just accept what Bush did? Even if it hurts? He did it. We are in an open-ended, trillion dollar war. Quit trying to invent money that already been stolen or spent. Accept reality. The USA is evil, and run by demons. Bush and Cheney live as strongly today throught their debt and warmongering as if they were still in power.

The evil presidents do live on after their term limit.

Lets fix that war first, then maybe we can pay for RX in say, 60 years, when we finally get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Scott

February 25th, 2010
3:10 pm

Granny,

The funny thing is that they should be checking up the facts being given by the Dems. Example???? Pelosi claiming that this bill will create 4 Million jobs, 400,000 almost immediately.
Many questions should be asked.

First, where is this data coming from? Is it as reliable as the data used to project the number of jobs created by the Stimulus Bill. I hope it doesn’t come from the same people. 2nd,

WHO is creating this jobs? The already-bloated government or the health industry that is about to get hammered? Who is paying for them? If the thing costs $1T, then that would amount to $250,000($1Trillion/4 Million jobs) per job, right? Also, if the numbers were true, then why the heck did we need the stimulus or this newest Jobs Bill? These numbers are also assuming that this bill actually costs $1T. Based off of Mass’s experience with Universal Healthcare and the government’s inability ever do something under budget, we should probably expect it to be $3T.

Granzilla U R wonderful

February 25th, 2010
3:11 pm

Is limbaugh pretending to have tremors again and making fun of Michael J Fox and victims of disease?

You’re right, Granzilla, that IS funny! and so perfect considering the healthcare debate!! So topical. I love it.

Look at me, I have leprosy. I have scurvy. Oo. I have parkinsons! I only shake cause I need attention!

Limbaugh is a comic genius and granzilla has the best sense of humor I ever saw.

Scott

February 25th, 2010
3:15 pm

Curios,
“So I guess Cynthia doesn’t respond to questions in which the answers don’t line up with her political stances…”

You are just figuring this out now. The other day she said I was lying when I said Obama has quadrupled the deficit. Do think she responded to me when I provided her CBO numbers proving that he has? Nope. Of course not. If you haven’t realized, she likes to skew facts. She actually has created a revised history book….one that blames slavery on the Republicans. It says that the Dems were the ones who led us out of slavery and that they were the ones who drove the CRA through Congress. She has such a skewed version of events as they actually occurred.