Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama extended a bipartisan olive branch to GOP leaders in the health care debate Tuesday, stating in a letter that he is willing to consider several of their ideas in a compromise plan.
Specifically, the president said he may be willing to:
- commit $50 million to fund state initiatives designed to reduce medical malpractice costs;
- allow undercover investigations of health care providers receiving Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs;
- boost Medicaid reimbursements to doctors in certain states; and
- include language in the final bill ensuring certain high-deductible health plans can be offered in the health exchange.
The president said his decision to consider the GOP ideas was a result of last week's health care summit.
"The meeting was a good opportunity to move past the usual rhetoric and sound-bites that have come to characterize this debate and identify areas on which we agree and disagree," he wrote. I "left convinced that the Republican and Democratic approaches to health care have more in common than most people think."
GOP leaders were unsatisfied with Obama's concessions. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said the president's ideas were little more than a few items "inadequately addressed in a 2,700-page bill."
McConnell repeated GOP calls for Congress to re-start deliberations from scratch. "If the majority manages to jam this (bill) through ... it will be the issue in every single race in America this fall," he promised.
Obama is set to lay out a political road map for passage of sweeping health care legislation on Wednesday, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Among other things, Obama is expected to advocate for an "up or down vote" in Congress if necessary, Gibbs said Monday.
Multiple Democratic sources have told CNN that the emerging consensus plan is for the House of Representatives to pass the Senate bill and send it to Obama. A package of changes that mirror the president's plan would then be passed through both chambers under reconciliation rules, which require only 51 votes in the Senate.
Democrats lost their 60-vote, filibuster-proof Senate majority in January, when GOP Sen. Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat previously held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Democrat.
Observers note, however, that it remains unclear exactly which health care provisions can be approved under reconciliation, which is reserved for legislation pertaining to the budget. Republicans have angrily criticized the Democrats' potential use of reconciliation, arguing that the maneuver was never intended to be used for major policy overhauls along the lines of the health care bill.
Democrats should "think twice" about using reconciliation, New Hampshire GOP Sen. Judd Gregg warned Tuesday.
Obama's mid-week remarks will also deal with the "substance" of health care reform, Gibbs added. White House aides say the president's speech will largely mirror the nearly $1 trillion compromise package he laid out one week ago. It may, however, be scaled back in some aspects, they added.
–CNN's Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report
Figures. If it is not all their way, it is no way. You just have to love the congress that is supposed to serve the people. Too bad they are only worried about their own party. Both of them. Every incumbent should be voted out. Rep. or Dem.
History clearly documents that under Democratic rule the economy has always done better for most everyone and that under Republican rule the economy has more often struggled and consistently only done better for the few (as documented by the increases in the gap separating the very wealthy from the middle class, including the upper middle class). Still there are those who dogmatically insist on ignoring all but what supports their preconceived positions – even when they loose in the process. Whether they are being conned or they are conning themselves is up for question but for sure the current Republican Party has clearly established itself as likely being the worst in history, with gross dishonesty, arrogant obstructive belligerence, irresponsible disregard for the majority and a self-serving total focus on their political ambitions. The evidence is clear but there are those who will reject it instead of acknowledging the truth, even as it costs them drastically.
An olive branch extended by being forced to do so has thorns.
Maybe this would have been better received way back when instead of using a steamroller and taunting the RNC.
Not much of a diplomat, this Obama.
Even with President Obama working with, and embracing their ideas, the GOP will not give an inch and help pass reform. I say to the Dems, use reconciliation; the Republican did many times to pass little things like tax breaks for the rich which we are still paying for.
What does MItch McConnell care about healthcare anyway he does not need it, he looks like a walking corpse for christ sake. He probably just takes a formaldehide bath every morning.