A Western White House…

Coming off the strong start of President Obama’s “White House Forum on Health Reform” last Thursday, the buzz is strong that the President is taking the show on the road, right here to California. From the White House press release:

Building on Thursday’s White House Forum on Health Care Reform, President Obama Announces Series of Regional White House
Forums to be Held Across Country

California, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Vermont to host regional forums to continue discussion about bringing down health care costs, expanding coverage for all Americans

WASHINGTON, DC – Building on Thursday’s White House Forum on Health Care Reform, President Obama announced a series of Regional White House Forums on Health Reform that will bring the conversation about health care reform directly to communities across the country.

In keeping with the Obama administration’s commitment to a transparent, accountable government, the forums will be an opportunity for Americans from all over the country to voice their concerns and ideas about reforming our health care system.

“Health care reform is a fiscal imperative,” President Obama said. “Skyrocketing health care costs are draining our federal budget, undermining our long-term economic prosperity and devastating American families. The time for reform is now and these regional forums are some of the key first steps toward breaking the stalemate we have been stuck in for far too long. The forums will bring together diverse groups of people all over the country who have a stake in reforming our health care system and ask them to put forward their best ideas about how we bring down costs and expand coverage for American families.”

The Regional White House Forums on Health Care Reform will be hosted by the states’ Governors and will include participants ranging from doctors to patients to providers to policy experts. They will be open conversations with everyday Americans, local, state and federal elected officials – both Democrat and Republican — and senior Obama administration officials. The events will begin with a video recorded by the President, a summary of the findings from the Health Care Community Discussions that took place in December, and an overview of the discussion that took place at the White House Forum on Health Reform.

The meetings in California, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Vermont will take place in March and early April. Further logistical information about the forums is forthcoming.

It makes sense for the Obama health care road show to come to California. Key Congressional committee chairmen with responsibility over health reform are from California. By making Governor Schwarzenegger host, it spotlights a Republican Governor interested in health reform, who ultimately endorsed a framework similar to the Obama proposal, even if there are some differences in the details.

And finally, the health crisis is particularly acute in California. For the rest of the nation, California is the ghost of Christmas future: it’s where the country will be in ten years without health reform.

It doesn’t sound like the President will come. But health policy wonks can still swoon over Orzag or another key health care principles. An Emanuel brother, perhaps?

We’ve gotten several calls about this just in the last day, but this is what we know at the moment. Hopefully there will be more later…

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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