As busy as it’s been in Sacramento, the health care debate is taking off in Washington, DC.
On Monday, President Obama hosted a “fiscal responsibility summit,” with the announced goal of cutting the deficit by half. But a major focus was health reform. (In fact, among those in attendance, looking at the C-SPAN coverage, was Health Access board member Dr. Ho Tran, director of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum.) The President’s budget director, Peter Orzag, said: “entitlement reform is health reform; the path to fiscal responsibility is through health reform.”
On Tuesday, the President delivered his address to Congress, where he was unequivocal: “let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Max Baucus is hosting a hearing on comprehensive health reform, officially starting the consideration of this major push in Congress. (And back in Sacramento, our Senate Health Committee, chaired by Senator Elaine Alquist, is also having a hearing on the prospects for health reform on Wednesday afternoon. The Assembly Health Committee, chaired by Assemblyman Dave Jones, is having a hearing on state health reform in a few weeks.)
On Thursday, President Obama is expected to release his budget proposal. There’s expectation that he will include specific dollars for his health reform in the budget proposal–what was seen as a critical “put your money where your mouth is” marker about the priority of health reform. Some in-depth reporting is available from The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn and The American Prospect’s Ezra Klein. All signs at the federal level are pretty positive right now.
We’re off and running!