Health Care Summit: Obama Calls for ‘Spirit of Good Faith’ Without ‘Political Theater’

By Lindsey Ellerson

Feb 20, 2010 6:01am

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: A week before his health care summit, President Obama called on Democrats and Republicans to come to the table “in a spirit of good faith,” when they sit down at the Blair House on Thursday for the president’s much-anticipated meeting. “I don’t want to see this meeting turn into political theater, with each side simply reciting talking points and trying to score political points,” Obama said in his weekly address. “Instead, I ask members of both parties to seek common ground in an effort to solve a problem that’s been with us for generations.” However, Republicans, in their weekly address, again called for Democrats to "scrap" their bill and start over on reform. “Right now, Democrats are continuing to work behind closed doors, putting the finishing touches on yet another massive health care bill Americans can't afford and don't want,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R -Mich., who delivered the Republican response. “If the starting point for this summit is more of the same backroom deals and partisan bills, then this meeting will likely be a charade.” In his address, President Obama said he believes he has “sought out and supported” Republican ideas of reform from the “very beginning.” “Some Republicans want to allow Americans to purchase insurance from a company in another state to give people more choices and bring down costs," President Obama said. "Some Republicans have also suggested giving small businesses the power to pool together and offer health care at lower prices, just as big companies and labor unions do. I think both of these are good ideas – so long as we pursue them in a way that protects benefits, protects patients, and protects the American people.” President Obama told members of Congress that they all know where the areas of agreement are and where the sources of disagreement lie. “After debating this issue exhaustively for a year, let’s move forward together," he said. "Next week is our chance to finally reform our health insurance system so it works for families and small businesses. It’s our chance to finally give Americans the peace of mind of knowing that they’ll be able to have affordable coverage when they need it most.” If Congress doesn’t act, the president says, the future will include premium hikes like Anthem Blue Cross’ recently announced 39 percent hike, with the potential to get worse. “After their announcement stirred public outcry, Anthem agreed to delay their rate hike until May 1 while the situation is reviewed by the state of California,” President Obama said. He also offered other examples of rising rates. "It’s not just Californians who are being hit by rate hikes," he said. "In Kansas, one insurance company raised premiums by 10 to 20 percent only after asking to raise them by 20 to 30 percent. Last year, Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield raised rates by 22 percent after asking to raise them by up to 56 percent. And in Maine, Anthem is asking to raise rates for some folks by about 23 percent." President Obama said that without reform that is what the future will look like – ”but it’s not what the future has to look like.” The health care summit is scheduled for Thursday at the Blair House in Washington, D.C. -Sunlen Miller

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