Thursday’s bipartisan summit on health care that’s being convened by President Barack Obama has Republicans and Democrats ready to come up with ideas that everyone can live with. The President said he wants both parties to come to a compromise that will lead to a healthier America.
“Let’s get the relevant parties together; let’s put the best ideas on the table. My hope is that we can find enough overlap that we can say this is the right way to move forward, even if I don’t get every single thing that I want,” said President Obama at a recent press briefing.
In his weekly address, the president pointed out the need for reform because of the more than $12 billion in profits made by insurance companies over the past year from raising costs, even as Americans continue to lose their coverage.
Using California as an example, the president said that health insurer Anthem Blue Cross informed its customers in the state that it would raise premiums by an average of 25 percent. A quarter of those receiving insurance from the company could see rates increase by as much as 35 to 36 percent.
After pubic outcry, Anthem agreed to delay the rate hike until May 1 while the situation continues to be reviewed by the State of California. Other states, including Kansas, Michigan and Maine, are seeing raises in premiums between 10 and 56 percent.
“That’s what the future is on track to look like. But it’s not what the future has to look like,” said President Obama. “The question, then, is whether we will do what it takes–all of us, Democrats and Republicans–to build a better future for ourselves, our children and our country.”
The president plans to have both Republicans and Democrats come to the table to discuss a solution. He’s asking members of both parties to “seek common ground and noted that he has sought out and supported Republican ideas from the beginning.
He said, “Some Republicans want to allow Americans to purchase insurance from a company in another state to give people more choices and bring down costs. Some Republicans have also suggested giving small businesses the power to pool together and offer health care at lower prices, just as big companies and labor unions do. I think both of these are good ideas–so long as we pursue them in a way that protects benefits, protects patients and protects the American people.”
According to the U.S. Senate Democrats, more 52 million Americans are currently living without health insurance. Families of color would benefit from health insurance reform through lower costs for preventive care. The reform could also fight health disparities in the Black community.
Republicans have proposed initiatives for the reform that include allowing health insurance premiums to vary based on participation in proven employer wellness programs, extending dependent coverage to age 26 and allowing automatic enrollment by employers in health insurance that allows employees to opt out.
Many of the plans that Republicans have presented have been incorporated by the President on a number of additional proposals that focus on combating waste, fraud and governmental abuse.
The bipartisan meeting on health reform will take place at Thursday, February 25 at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. at Blair House. The meeting will be streamed live in its entirety on the White House website, www.whitehouse.gov/live.