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Obama announces televised health care meeting

President Obama announced plans to host a live, televised meeting with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to discuss and revive health care reform.  In an interview with Katie Couric aired prior to the Super Bowl, Obama said of the proposed summit, “I want to come back [after the President’s Weekend break] and have a large meeting, Republicans and Democrats, to go through, systematically, all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward.”

The Obama administration realizes that the opportunity to reform health care is slipping away.  The proposed half-day meeting, which is scheduled for February 25, will take place at the Blair House and will be televised live, most likely, on C-SPAN.  A bi-partisan meeting — particularly one broadcast to the entire county — could be an admission by Obama that he needs Republican support and may consider their ideas or, even, restart the process altogether.

A White House official said ““What the president will not do is let this moment slip away. He hopes to have Republican support in doing so — but he is going to move forward on health reform.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle gave their support for the upcoming meeting.  “Obviously, I am pleased that the White House finally seems interested in a real, bipartisan conversation on health care,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Oh.).  He added: “The problem with the Democrats’ health care bills is not that the American people don’t understand them; the American people do understand them, and they don’t like them.”  Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said “Senate Democrats join with the president in reaffirming our commitment to seeking a bipartisan solution to health reform. We have promoted the pursuit of a bipartisan approach to health reform from day one.”

After the election of Mass. Republican Scott Brown to the Senate — which caused Democrats to lose their filibuster-proof supermajority — the White House has de-emphasized its intention to push through an unpopular reform bill.  Now, as President Obama essentially admits that the current proposals are insufficient for passage, the question is whether a new bill will include measures to support physicians.  If you could start over, what would you want to see in a new health reform bill?

For more details and links to Obama’s interview with Katie Couric, go to Politico.com.

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