Although President Obama has attempted to avoid issuing his own version of a health care reform plan, the deadlock in Congress has compelled the president to formulate his own specific set of proposals, scheduled to be unveiled Monday, February 22.
According to a piece for the Chicago Tribune by Noam N Levey, the presidential suggestions will come three days before a planned summit with congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle. Obama’s hope is to jump-start the stalled process and to appeal for bipartisan cooperation.
Most likely, Obama will offer solutions for key differences in the House and Senate versions of the reform bill, but it is not clear what concessions the President is willing to make to the conservative Republican position. Part of the renewed push to resurrect the bill considered dead after the election of a Republican to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat stems from large requests from rate increases by insurance companies nationwie in recent weeks.
In particular, WellPoint’s call for a 39 percent hike in rates for Anthem Blue Cross in California has indicated the pressing need for health care reform to control the spiraling price of insurance. Even more Americans, hard-hit by the recession, will likely go without health coverage in coming months if such massive rate increases are allowed to go unchecked.
The impending summit and Obama’s more direct participation may not be enough to save health care reform, with many pundits fearful that lawmakers will have to go back to square one, delaying passage of badly needed legislation. If the current health care legislation does die, it’s a sure indication that partisan debate in Congress has stalled forward progress on most, if not all, of the Democrat’s major wish list items — a bad sign for the Obama administration and a bad sign for Americans struggling to survive the worst economic recession since 1929.