Today’s bipartisan health care meeting offered something you rarely see in Washington: an open, honest, productive discussion between the political parties. Leaders from across the political spectrum gathered at Blair House to exchange thoughts about an issue that touches all of us: rising health costs and unfair insurance company practices.
The President doesn’t view today’s meeting as a campaign debate or piece of theater – and he didn’t approach it as if it were scored like an Olympic event. The President went to Blair House focused on the substance – not the process – and he left the meeting focused on substance: how we put the American people in control of their own health care.
The President remains committed to enacting meaningful health insurance reform that will lower costs for families and small businesses by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in American history. He wants to enhance insurance choices and promote competition with a new insurance marketplace where people and small businesses will be able to have the same choices that every member of Congress will have. His proposal will provide common sense rules of the road and basic consumer protections that keep insurance companies honest and he’ll fight to make sure that no American is denied coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.
Throughout the day, both sides found areas of agreement on important issues like:
- Preventing waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid
- Addressing medical malpractice reform
- Reforming the insurance market
- Giving individuals more choices in coverage, and giving small businesses the opportunity to pool coverage for their employees
But there were also important areas of disagreement.
There was a fundamental disagreement about whether we should set some common sense rules of the road to protect American families and small businesses from insurance company abuses. The President doesn’t believe we can afford to leave those decisions about your care to the insurers alone.
The President believes that a problem this big cannot be addressed incrementally. And while insuring 30 million people is going to cost money, it’s important to remember that most of this money is going to tax credits that will reduce premiums and help people get better coverage.
And while the President appreciated the participation and input of everyone today, he doesn’t think we can just scrap a year’s worth of work and start over. The millions of Americans that are suffering can’t afford another year-long debate. There’s too much at stake.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director