In his weekly radio address on Saturday, February 20, 2010, President Obama indicated his willingness to compromise with Republicans on two key areas of health care reform: buying insurance across state lines at competitive prices and incentives for small business owners to provide employee coverage as a benefit.
“I think both of these are a good idea,” Obama said, “so long as we pursue them in a way that protects benefits, protects patients, and protects the American people.” The President warned both parties, however, that a health-care summit planned for Thursday, February 25 was not an event for “political theater.”
The meeting, the President said, is intended “to seek common ground in an effort to solve a problem that’s been with us for generations.” The summit, which will be televised live on C-SPAN, could break the stalemate in Congress. Additionally, Obama has drafted his own blueprint for reform, which will be posted on the White House website Monday.
Many Republicans have labeled the meeting as nothing put a political ploy. It is not clear how many will attend, calling into question the potential productivity of the effort. The parties can agree, in broad terms, that health care in the United States is badly flawed, but consensus on detailed solutions has proven elusive.
When a Republican was elected to fill Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat from Massachusetts, Congressional Democrats lost the majority they needed to push their version of the reform package through to the President’s desk.
Obama’s plan will likely include subsidies for Americans who cannot afford to pay for coverage, incentives for businesses to offer insurance, and expanded Medicaid coverage for the nation’s poor.