By Jessica DeMartino, PhD, NCCN Policy Fellow
Following the loss of the late Edward Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat to Republican Scott Brown and the subsequent loss of the ability to stop a Republican filibuster, the Democratic Party is being forced to consider alternative means of getting some element of health care reform passed. There are still several paths to health care reform left for Democrats to pursue. The Democrats may consider budget reconciliation as a means to pass health care reform, or it is possible to pass several smaller bills with Republican support.
On February 7, 2010, President Obama announced a bipartisan health care reform meeting to be held February 25, 2010 with key Democrats and Republicans invited to attend. President Obama invited Republicans to bring their best health care ideas to the table. This meeting will be broadcast live to address Republican concerns that President Obama and the Democratic Party have not been transparent in their efforts. Republicans have expressed doubts about the content of the Democratic reform bills and have urged President Obama to start from scratch. This suggestion has been rejected by the White House.
Invited attendees for the bipartisan health care reform meeting include Democrats Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Henry Waxman, Max Baucus, Tom Harkin, and Charles Rangel. Invited Republicans include House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Joe Barton, Chuck Grassley, Michael Enzi, and Dave Camp. Expected attendees from the Administration include President Obama, Vice President Biden, Kathleen Sebelius (Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services), and Nancy-Ann DeParle (Director of the Office of Health Reform). The White House has posted the text of its proposed health care overhaul online, and Republicans have been asked to do the same.