White House officials tell ABC News that in his remarks tomorrow President Obama will indicate a willingness to work with Republicans on some issue to get a health care reform bill passed but will say that if it is necessary, Democrats will use the controversial reconciliation rules requiring only 51 Senate votes to pass the "fix" to the Senate bill.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been awaiting the president’s remarks direction on how health care reform will proceed.
In his remarks, scheduled to be at the White House, the president will paint a picture of what he will say will happen without a health care reform bill – skyrocketing premiums, everyone at the mercy of the insurance industry as recently seen with the 39% premium increases proposed by Anthem Blue Cross in California.
He will note that the “fixed” bill will include the proposal for a new "Health Insurance Rate Authority" to set guidelines for reasonable rate increases. If proposed premium increases are not justifiable per those Health Insurance Rate Authority guidelines, the Health and Human Services Secretary or state regulators could block them.
The president will outline the plan to pass the bill, including having the House of Representatives pass the Democratic Senate health care reform legislation as well as a second bill containing various “fixes.”
He will say that if Republicans refuse to allow and up or down vote in the Senate on the fixes to the bill, Democrats will use the reconciliation rules.
He will argue these rules are perfectly appropriate because the procedure is not being used for the whole bill, just for some fixes; because reconciliation rules are traditionally used for deficit reduction and health care reform will reduce the deficit; and because the reconciliation process has been used many times by Republicans for larger legislation such as the tax cuts pushed by President George W. Bush.
The president will also extend a hand to work with Republicans on measures they have pushed, including $50 million for state grants for demonstration projects to explore alternatives to medical practice cases, and a crackdown on Medicaid and Medicare fraud as proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
He will also herald the removal of extraneous provisions in the bill such as the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback,” a deal to secure the support of Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., in which the federal government would pay for Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion; and “Gator-aid,” the provision to shield Florida seniors from cuts to the Medicare Advantage program, secured by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
Mr. Obama will say that he will be working on exact legislative language in the next few days. Republicans can join him and Democratic congressional leaders of the House and Senate to makes these changes and to pass the bill, but either way the bill will be moving forward.