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Anthem: This Week in Health Reform - August 31 - September 4, 2009

Sep 04, 2009

In an effort to regain control of the health care reform debate after a contentious August recess and a significant drop in his poll numbers, President Obama announced plans to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, September 9th . In his remarks, the President is expected to present a clear blueprint for the health care reform legislation he expects Congress to pass.  

Senate Negotiations

Grassley Says Public Option Is No Longer an Option: On Monday, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the GOP's top health reform negotiator, indicated that a public option is off the table and not something being discussed by the core group of Senate negotiators, also known as the "Gang of Six." The group is slated to reconvene on Friday via conference call but do not expect to make any real decisions until lawmakers return from Congressional recess.

Baucus Predicts Health Reform Will Happen This Year: In an interview on Monday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) firmly stated that a health care overhaul will happen this year, with or without GOP support. Baucus expects to know by mid-September if a bipartisan deal can be worked out.

Enzi's Opposition Puts a Snag in Hopes for Bipartisan Deal: In the GOP's weekly radio address on Saturday, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), a core member of the Senate's Gang of Six, sharply criticized the Democrats' reform plan. He indicated that a bipartisan deal will be difficult to achieve, saying the proposed legislation "will actually make our nation's finances sicker without saving you money."  On Thursday, Enzi reiterated his commitment to achieving bipartisan agreement by working with the Gang of Six. 

Additional Activities

Democrats and Republicans Push Reform on the Road: Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle hit the road this week, hosting campaign-style events across the country in a last-ditch effort to promote their messages before returning to Washington. Senators from the GOP, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-TN) and Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Kit Bond (R-MO), Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Richard Burr (R-NC), hosted events that emphasized the importance of a go-slow approach to President Obama's health care reform push. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America grassroots organization continued its aggressive initiatives, which included an 11-city bus tour advocating the President's health reform messages. 

CBO Prevention Projections Questioned:  A study published in Tuesday's Health Affairs journal  highlighted the shortcomings of the Congressional Budget Office's scoring of prevention programs. Arguing that true savings cannot be achieved within 10 years, the study - conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center - suggested measuring cost savings of prevention on a 25-year time horizon. Researchers said new longer-term forecasts would also help legislators and others estimate how having healthier, longer-living patients would affect costs.

Looking Ahead

President Obama will travel to Cincinnati on Monday to speak at the AFL-CIO's annual Labor Day picnic.

Lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington on September 8th. Both the House and Senate will gather for President Obama's joint session on September 9th.

Join Us for "Building a Sustainable Health Care System"

Register now for a webinar town hall event on Friday, September 11th, and hear how reform legislation may impact the health insurance business. Participants will have an opportunity to ask our team in Washington about health care issues.
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