Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What to expect at the health care summit tomorrow

Cspan, CNN and other channels will begin coverage of Obama’s health care summit tomorrow at 10:00AM eastern time.

Obama will start the meeting with open comments followed by comments from Republican and Democratic attendees chosen by their parties. The remainder of the meeting will focus on four topics:

1. Controlling costs, introduced by President Obama.

2. Changes to insurance industry practices, introduced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

3. Reducing the federal deficit, introduced by Vice President Joseph Biden.

4. Expanding coverage, introduced by President Obama.

The Republicans will have a 17-member “Truth Squad” monitoring the session from Blair House with plans to appear frequently on Fox and other willing news outllets to denounce everything that Obama and the Democrats say as lies. The “Truth Squad” will include nine members who are doctors and have a vested interest in defeating health reform.

The summit runs from 10AM to 4PM with a buffet lunch.

Here are the senators and representatives who are schedule to attend the health reform summit.

Democratic Senators

Harry Reid

Richard Durbin

Max Baucus

Tom Harkin

Christopher Dodd

Chuck Schumer

Patty Murray

Jay Rockefeller

Kent Conrad

Ron Wyden

Republican Senators

Mitch McConnell

Jon Kyl

Mike Enzi

Chuck Grassley

Lamar Alexander

John McCain

Tom Coburn

John Barrasso

Democratic House members

Nancy Pelosi

Steny Hoyer

James Clyburn

Charles Rangel

Henry Waxman

George Miller

John Dingell

Xavier Becerra

Louise Slaughter

Rob Andrews

Jim Cooper

Republican House members

John Boehner

Eric Cantor

Dave Camp

Joe Barton

John Kline

Charles Boustany

Marsha Blackburn

Peter Roskam

Paul Ryan

Don't expect the summit to produce any bipartisan agreement. That's not in the cards. However, it should be good political theater and we will see if Obama can handle this one as well as he did the last face-to-face with the Repubs. My bet is that he will. The summit will get a lot of coverage and if Obama handles it well he will get the opportunity to explain his and the Democrat's health care proposals, particularly the widely popular provisions such as those I mentioned from the Kaiser survey (see my previous post). The more Americans learn about what is really in the Health bills the more they like them. If the summit results in some real education then health reform may get a big boost. On the other hand, if Obama trips up and lets Republicans take over the meeting (unlikely), health reform may be dead. As I said it is high political drama with big stakes. It's political poker. But then, Obama is very good at all forms of poker. We'll see. You should watch this if you can. I know I'll be glued to CSpan tomorrow.

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