Obama to Make Health Care Announcement Next Week

(AP)
President Obama will make an announcement sometime next week on what he "believes is the best way forward" on health care reform, the White House said Friday.

"We've had many weeks to contemplate where we are," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

The president will consider areas of common agreement discussed yesterday at the White House health care summit and work with his team to possibly incorporate them into the health care proposal he has put forward, Gibbs said. Some of those ideas could include Republican Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.)'s suggestions on cutting fraud and abuse from Medicare.

"This is a fairly dynamic process that will happen over the next several days," Gibbs said.

It is unclear whether there are enough votes in either the House or the Senate to pass the president's health care proposal, but Nancy-Ann DeParle, the director of the White House Office of Health Reform, will be working with both Democrats and Republicans to try make progress on the issue, Gibbs said.

If the Senate is unable to find any Republican votes for health care, they may use a process called "reconciliation," which only requires a simple majority, to pass the bill. While the proposal to use reconciliation has been characterized by some as too partisan, Gibbs said that "the notion that somehow health care hasn't been done this way has been offered up by people but is not accurate."

He pointed to COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), which gives workers who lose their health coverage limited extended benefits, as an example of health care legislation passed under reconciliation.

Gibbs lamented the fact that several hundreds of thousands of people may, in fact, lose subsidies to pay for COBRA benefits after they expire this weekend. A single senator, Republican Jim Bunning of Kentucky, blocked efforts to pass legislation that included an extension of the benefits.

"That is fundamentally not fair," Gibbs said. "These are the type of instances where, for some reason, one person can throw out all measure of common sense and hurt hundreds of thousands of Americans who have unfortunately lost their jobs... The Senate should act on ensuring no one loses these benefits as a result of one person standing in the way."

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