On Thursday, three dozen Republican and Democratic lawmakers met at the White House-initiated healthcare summit and agreed on one thing; the current system needs changing. Unfortunately, liberal and conservative leaders came to an accord on little else, leaving the often contentious six-and-a-half hour televised meeting with an uncertain plan on how to proceed.
President Obama soundly rejected the Republicans’ pleas to start from scratch or conduct piecemeal reform, stating that the nation cannot afford another year-long debate.
GOP and Democratic leaders butted heads on several key issues, including Obama’s proposal to establish state or national purchasing exchanges, where individuals and small businesses can pool together and compare federally regulated health plans, according to Fox News. Republicans responded that all private insurance plans should be offered without government regulation to create a competitive playing field, implying their distaste for involving the federal government outside of setting minimum standards for insurance plans.
The GOP also took issue with the Democrats’ plan to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare to help pay for the government’s reform proposal. Moreover, Republicans opposed the mandate that nearly everyone be required to carry insurance.
However, the president did seem open to a GOP request that insurers be allowed to compete across state lines.
Republican leaders left the summit unsure of how Obama and other Democratic leaders will proceed. The president left the door open to using the parliamentary tactic known as reconciliation, which would allow Democrats to push through healthcare reform with 51 votes, instead of 60.