Criticism, Passion Emerge At Day-Long Health Care Meeting

Strong personalities and opinions emerged at yesterday's bipartisan health care summit.

NPR interviewed Rep. Dave Camp, ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. Camp said: "We were able to at least be heard and have some exposure to the ideas that we've been promoting for a long time. And the president did finally say in the close that we do have ideas that lower costs in insurance and that — do it without increasing taxes. And we don't cut Medicare. And we don't have new mandates in our proposals. So this is really the first opportunity we've had to really focus not only our colleagues and the president, but also the American people on the proposals we've had" (Siegel, 2/25). 

Kaiser Health News has a transcript of the summit, with Camp's comments on medical malpractice: "A key way of reducing costs that's missing from the House and Senate bills is responsible lawsuit reform that guarantees injured parties, much like our two largest states have adopted — Texas and California — access to all economic damages such as future medical care. If they need nursing care in the future, they'll get it, lost wages, reasonable awards for punitive damages and pain and suffering" (2/25).

CNN quotes Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., who had asked governors be allowed to attend the summit. "'It's unfortunate that President Obama rejected my request to include governors from both parties in today's discussion,' Pawlenty said in a statement released by his office. 'Governors have hands-on experience reforming health care in our states and would've brought concrete ideas to the table'" (Hamby, 2/25).

The Wall Street Journal: "Democrats and Republicans generally agree on the need to root out fraud in Medicare and Medicaid, but Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, threw out one idea that President Barack Obama hadn't included in his health-care overhaul plan. Coburn, himself a doctor, said the government should send undercover patients into doctors' offices to probe whether the doctors were willing to break Medicare rules — not unlike mystery shoppers ferreting out bad customer service at stores. Obama said he'd consider putting the proposal into his plan" (Landers, 2/25).

On the Democratic side, Vice President Joe Biden said government health care wastes "a heck of a lot of money," The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times reports. "He said he agrees with others, including Republicans, that there's waste in federal health spending" and made his comments concerning reducing the deficit (2/25).

Rep. John Dingell in a CQ/The Washington Post transcript: "What we're going to do is not perfect. But it sure will make it better and it's going to ease a huge amount of pain and suffering at a cost which we can afford, which has been costed out by the Office of Management — by the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office, saying it's budget neutral. It, in fact, reduces the budget" (2/25).

Sen. Dick Durbin in a separate CQ/The Washington Post transcript: "Step back for a second and look at who we are in this room. As was said many years ago, the law in its majestic equality forbids both the wealthy and the poor from sleeping under bridges. When it comes to the wealthy in health care per capita, we're the wealthiest people in America. the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program administered by the federal government, setting minimum standards for the health insurance that we enjoy as individuals and want for our families, is all we're asking for in this bill for families across America" (2/25). 

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.