Former political leaders to launch state-based healthcare initiative

A bipartisan group of former congressional and state leaders on Tuesday will launch a new health project focusing on state-based initiatives. The Bipartisan Policy Center, which offered a compromise blueprint for healthcare reform during the reform debate, is scheduled to announce a new project that will "work with the states, through a series of public and private discussions, to ensure that Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care."

The new project will be announced by former Senate majority leaders Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and by former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio).

Daschle was involved in the center's healthcare reform effort along with former Senate majority leaders Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Howard Baker (R-Tenn.). The center made news at the time when it sketched a bipartisan way forward on healthcare reform even as the debate had ground to a halt on Capitol Hill due to partisan gridlock. 

In June 2009, the three former Senate leaders unveiled a 68-page plan titled "Crossing our Lines" that offered a compromise that the Democrat and two Republicans could live with. The proposal included a refundable tax credit and an individual mandate requiring people to buy insurance; it also featured an employer mandate, a major sticking point for Republicans, and offered tax credits for small businesses that offered coverage.

Daschle, meanwhile, had to give up the idea of a public option for a compromise that gave the president fast-track authority to set up a public plan if private insurers failed to cut costs. The proposal also taxed healthcare benefits if they exceed the value of benefits offered to members of Congress.