In an unscheduled White House health care speech this afternoon, President Obama reiterated his commitment to accomplishing health care reform “this year.”
Notably absent from his statement was any reference to the looming August congressional recess, or the mid-October deadline he and Democratic leaders had set for signing a bill into law.
The House of Representatives will recess on August 3, and the Senate on August 10, and Obama has insisted in the past that both chambers complete work on individual health care bills before adjourning for the summer.
As I’ve detailed previously, there are a number of reasons the administration wants swift action, and today’s speech is among the first public signs that the White House might be girding itself for possibility that Congress will miss its deadlines.
In a nod to new concerns that House and Senate proposals don’t do enough to curb long-term health spending, Obama noted his work with Congress on an initiative that would create an “Independent Medicare Advisory Commission” which would have the power to set the rates Medicare pays for services. Currently, Medicare seeks advice on those issues from MedPAC. This plan would strengthen that commission, and make its findings binding, unless overridden by the President or Congress.