Gibbs Says GOP Will Need To Explain Why They Now Oppose Health Care Summit They Called For

Lauren Victoria Burke/WDCPIX.COM

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today the proposed insurance rate hikes from Anthem Blue Cross in California that we’ve been writing about will serve as a backdrop for President Obama’s health care summit next week.

Gibbs struck an ominous tone, suggesting that if reform doesn’t pass now, there are more increases to come. It’s an issue the Democrats seized on recently as they attempt to push a final measure over the goal line.

“People are getting letters in the mail now. They got them in California. Your health insurance is going to go up almost 40 percent from last year to this year. That’s a preview of what’s going to happen if we don’t do anything,” Gibbs said.Gibbs also reacted to Anthem parent company Well Point’s justification for the hikes – that reform is necessary.

“Well, I would say to this insurer, welcome to the game. Come down and help us — help be part of the solution for cutting costs and increasing coverage,” Gibbs said.

Republicans have not yet accepted the invitation and have said that the White House should start from scratch with a clean sheet of paper. Gibbs mocked the party for not immediately accepting a meeting they called for.

“Right before the president issued the invitation, the — the thing that each of these individuals was hoping for most was an opportunity to sit down on television and discuss and engage on these issues. Now, not accepting an invitation to do what they’d asked the president to do, if they decide not to, I’ll let them leap the — leap the chasm there and try to explain why they’re now opposed to what they said they wanted most to do,” he said.

Gibbs said the process is “toward the end of the solution finding.”

The press secretary several times pointedly declined to say what would be in the draft “online text” that Obama told lawmakers he’d post before the Feb. 25 summit, telling reporters in the daily briefing today to “stay tuned.”

We’ve been asking our Congressional sources all day what they expect to be in that draft. So far, no answers, but we’ll keep readers posted.