Once more unto the breach (Rep. Tom Price)

As you read this, President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid are lining up their troops to drag their government takeover of health care across the finish line. This is no easy task considering how strongly the American people have objected. Even so, they are absolutely determined to jam this through with an iron fist regardless of the electoral consequences.
Some of you may be worried by news reports that President Obama is again trying to appear bipartisan by giving lip service to ideas supported by Republicans. Don’t be. As long as the basis of his plan puts Washington in charge of Americans’ health care, there is nothing more to discuss. Don’t get me wrong. We’d love to see him support our ideas on their own merits. But the half measures he’s offered to toss on top of a trillion dollar bill are not a serious effort at bipartisanship.
While Republicans stand strong, however, the Associated Press reports that at least 10 House Democrats who voted against the Pelosi bill may be considering changing their vote if given the opportunity.


The Big Question: What happens next on healthcare?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today. .

Today's question:

After President Barack Obama's bipartisan summit, what happens next on healthcare reform?


Why I support question time for our democracy (Rep. Kendrick Meek)

On the occasion of today’s White House Health Care Summit, I would like to offer my full support for Question Time – a bipartisan effort to hold regular, unmediated, and open exchanges between the President and members of Congress, the direct representatives of the people.

Over 18,000 Americans, representing all political stripes, have joined the online movement for Question Time and many young supporters have approached me about getting behind the idea. After seeing the success of the President’s appearance last month at the House Republican retreat in Baltimore and his subsequent Q&A with Senate Democrats, I’ve become convinced that Question Time will both strengthen our governance and help revitalize our political process.

Democracy doesn’t take place in a vacuum. It requires commitment, energy, and openness. And, most importantly, it is not a solo act. Too often, we think of politics in a top-down, hierarchical sense instead of treating it as a two-way street. Holding regular, publicly-televised and webcasted conversations between the President and the people's representatives has the potential to combat hyper-partisanship and political stagnation.


Eliminate the antitrust exemption for health insurance companies (Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson)

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act on November 7, and the Senate passed its own health care reform bill on December 24. Our country faces so many challenges right now that in recent weeks, it seems that momentum for reforming health care has slowed as other issues have taken center stage, particularly the need for another jobs bill to build on the success of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. However, reforming our broken health care system so that every American has access to quality, affordable health care is as important now as it was in November, when I voted in favor of the House bill. In fact, as time passes, reform grows increasingly important -- in the coming months, we will see more and more Americans priced out of the health insurance market.

For example, Anthem Blue Cross of California recently announced that its individual market premiums would rise by as much as 39 percent in the coming months, and the company agreed to postpone the rate increases for two months only when California state officials and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius asked for a public justification from the company. In 2009, insurance companies in states across the country requested permission to increase rates by double digits -- a particularly shocking example occurred in Michigan, where Blue Cross/Blue Shield attempted to increase rates for plans sold on the individual market by 56 percent.


ObamaCare returns: Time to send a clear message to Washington

Disgusted by President Obama’s liberal agenda, voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts went to the polls and replaced Democrats with Republicans to send a message to Washington. That message is: Stop.

Stop the rampant spending that threatens to send our country spiraling toward insolvency. Stop the rapid expansion of government that continues to encroach on our essential freedoms. And most of all stop trying to shove a radical health care “reform” bill designed to fundamentally restructure the U.S. economy down our throats.

The American people have spoken. The White House hasn’t heard their message.

Now Harry Reid is promising to pass a health care bill through the Senate in sixty days. President Obama is continuing to arrogantly push this radical legislation in the hope of creating a new entitlement program that will continue to nurture America’s dependency on Big Government. When America’s leadership has become so disconnected from Americans’ interests, the American people must stand up boldly in defense of their livelihoods and their liberties.


The Big Question: Will Obama's new plan give health reform a boost?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today .

Today's question:

Will President Barack Obama's new health reform plan generate momentum for the stalled legislation?

(Read today's answers after the jump.)


Now Obama discovers GOP healthcare proposals? (Rep. Tom Price)

Oh, the President must be really desperate

After repeating for months that Republicans have no solutions when it comes to health care reform, he now wants to discuss the very ideas he denied existed and has invited Republican leaders to the White House to find a “bipartisan” health care solution. How gracious of him.

You’ll have to excuse us for questioning the sincerity of the President’s newfound desire to work together. As Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, virtually every week in 2009, we requested to meet with the President to discuss health care and other central issues. Each time, a polite “thank you” email from the White House was the extent of our bipartisan discussions.  It’s interesting that only now – once his big-government dream is on political life support – does the President see a use for Republicans.  And it appears that use may be more political than rooted in policy goals.


Assuring Medicare's seniors access to essential medical equipment

The uncertainty surrounding legislation to shape the future of health care in this country has imperiled an important provision that would benefit many seniors today.  Namely, a bipartisan proposal to exempt community pharmacists from a costly, time-consuming and redundant Medicare regulation that needlessly restricts patients' access to diabetes testing supplies and other essential health care products.  However, there's an easy solution within reach this month.

Congressional support for pharmacists on this issue is strong and bipartisan - and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) deeply appreciates it.  Lawmakers recognize that:

  • Medicare Part B's Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) accreditation requirements are costly and self-defeating when it comes to community pharmacies. Upfront compliance costs can run $7,000, in addition to substantial annual costs, and the process must be repeated every three years.
  • The requirements are unnecessary for pharmacists, who are already state-licensed health care providers and who have not been associated with the fraudulent billing targeted by Medicare.

The Big Question: Will bipartisan talks revive healthcare reform?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today .

Today's question:

President Barack Obama has invited Republicans and Democrats to a televised summit on healthcare. Will this generate momentum for healthcare reform?

(Read today's responses after the jump.)


Republicans say 'game on' to sit down with President over health care proposals (Rep. Marsha Blackburn)

On Friday, President Obama was invited to speak at our House Republican conference.  The invitation was extended by Republican leadership in an attempt to engage the President in an open dialogue about his policies.  I had the opportunity to ask him a question about health care reform.  I wanted to know three things: First,  had he reviewed Republican proposals for reform, second, what lessons had he taken from the failure of other public option plans like TennCare, and third, when and how did he anticipate sitting down with Republicans to go over our proposals?

The president took his time in answering my question.  He told me politely that he had reviewed our proposals and rejected them. The President completely avoided any discussion of TennCare, just as Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had earlier this summer.  The President also failed to respond to where and how Republicans might sit down and go over our proposals with him.

Unfortunately, it seems that our ideas are welcome, so long as they conform to his preconceived idea that the only path to better health care is through a government bureaucracy.  Tennesseans know that just won’t work.