I’m taking the announcements of the House and Senate attendees for the health care summit in stride. The whole event is a kabuki dance anyway, so the players in that dance don’t seem like a pressing issue. Still, it’s amusing that Nancy Pelosi picked Jim Cooper, the dragon-slayer of the 1994 reform, as one of her compatriots at the summit:
A leadership aide tells us that on the House Democrats’ side, they are Reps. Xavier Becerra (CA), Louise Slaughter (NY), Rob Andrews (NJ) and Jim Cooper (TN).
Andrews, chairman of a health subcommittee of the Education and Labor Committee, is not a fan of the excise tax that’s included in the Senate version of the bill and in President Obama’s plan he outlined yesterday.
Becerra is a key progressive, Cooper is a Blue Dog who was instrumental in the Clinton health care effort in the 1990s.
Slaughter is chairman of the Rules Committee.
Let’s not pretend, as TPM sort of does in this piece, that this list runs the gamut of opinion in the House on health care. Becerra and Slaughter may call themselves progressive, but they’re first and foremost members of the leadership, and they’ll go with the leadership’s whims, evidenced most by when Slaughter, a co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, allowed her Rules Committee to write the rule that brought the Stupak amendment to the floor (she left the room for the final vote). Cooper, on the other hand, did more to kill Clinton-care than any Democrat in America in 1994, and he hasn’t exactly been helpful this time around, though he voted for the House bill.
Anthony Weiner and Peter Welch spent today asking, where are the single-payer advocates at this summit, since it’s all about finding new ideas? From their emailed release:
Dear Mr. President:
During the State of the Union address, you stated, “But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.”
We’d like to take you up on the offer. The best way to advance these goals is to expand what we know already works. We and many Americans propose Medicare for All. We would urge you to make sure that someone is invited to the summit that supports this position.
Building on Medicare, which has a 1% overhead rate, would reduce costs by eliminating insurance company profits and cut administrative costs which currently consume 31%, nearly double that of other nations. A universal Medicare for All system would provide Americans with complete autonomy in choosing their health care provider without regard to provider networks or referrals from primary care doctors. Patients would no longer be responsible for premiums, deductibles or co-payments. Government safety net programs, such as Medicaid and SCHIP, as well as the State and local government portions for these programs, would no longer be needed.
Furthermore, a Medicare for All system would be easily understandable by the American public. Medicare has been an enormous success for seniors and there is no reason, we believe, to not expand Medicare coverage to all Americans.
This won’t help, since the White House has made their decision. But it’s nice to see the collusion going on here. Jim Cooper talks about health care a lot – with the full context of him killing it in ’94 – so he gets an invite. Jay Rockefeller just played down the idea of instituting a public option through reconciliation – so he gets an invite. Anthony Weiner? Not so much.
UPDATE: And now we have the all-important summit agenda.