President Obama Hosts Senate 'Gang Of Six' At The White House For A Health Reform Update

President Barack Obama's Thursday meeting with six members of the Finance Committee was just an opportunity for an update and was not a "negotiating session," the White House said, according to The Associated Press (8/6).

Boston Globe's blog Political Intelligence reports that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters at his daily briefing that "The president invited the group to come to the White House today to provide an update and a status report of sorts on their negotiations amongst themselves and the committee. The president's message to them is to continue to work and find consensus on an issue that we know they've been working hard on, and is very important to the American people. ... The president wants them to continue to work and make progress, and wanted to hear directly from them on where they were. It wasn't a negotiating session" (Rhee, 8/6).

Congressional Quarterly: Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said that Obama asked the group "how he could help their negotiations, which have dragged on for nearly two months. 'I think the single most important thing he can do is continue to stress how critically important this is for the country,' Conrad said. 'Failure is simply not an option.'" Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the meeting lasted about an hour and staff asked to leave during the last half.

"Conrad said that the group talked about several policy areas, including a large Medicaid expansion contemplated as part of the bill; affordability issues, such as how much people can afford to pay in insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments; and how the legislation should be financed." Obama is concerned about "Medicaid expansion being done in a way that was coordinated carefully with the governors," according to Conrad. He added that that "affordability had to be very sensitive to what the burden is on people" (Wayne, 8/6).

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