Senate Bill Used As Framework Of White House Health Care Plan

February 22, 2010 5:01 a.m.

President Obama took the Senate health care bill and stripped special deals and added his preferred compromise for taxing high-end insurance plans, detailing for the first time his preferred approach for finishing the long battle for reform.

The White House just released the Obama plan in advance of Thursday’s health care summit, framing it as an improvement to the Senate bill and an ultimate compromise.

The administration is signaling they are prepared to push the plan through reconciliation, talking about the need for an “up or down” vote, and wants the American people to see the negotiations play out on television among Democrats and Republicans.

Obama aides described what they are posting today at as the president’s “take” on bridging the differences between the House and Senate bills passed last year. It’s largely been crafted based on negotiations Democratic leaders had with Obama in the Cabinet room before the Jan. 19 election in Massachusetts.Communications director Dan Pfeiffer framed the 11-page plan as what Obama will bring to the table at the health care summit Thursday, calling it “the opening bid for the health meeting.”

“The president expects and believes the American people deserve an up or down vote on health care reform,” Pfeiffer said, calling the potential of a blockage from Republicans an “extraordinary step of filibustering health care reform.”

Pfeiffer said Obama wants an “honest, open, substantive discussion where both parties will get off their talking points.”

Among the highlights, which Brian goes over in more detail here:

* A delayed start to a new tax on high-end insurance plans. It would go into effect in 2018, not the 2013 as initially proposed.

* Ends the Nebraska deal giving a federal government subsidy for Medicaid.

* It has no public option but creates an exchange system.

* Was crafted to be in line with using reconciliation as a tactic for final passage.

* As we reported earlier, the measure proposes giving the government new power to block insurance rate hikes.

Pfeiffer said the fact the summit will be on television and that the legislation is posted online “help take away a little of the concern of this being something hatched behind closed doors.” That’s a charge the Republicans have been making for several weeks.

White House health care “czar” Nancy-Ann DeParle told reporters the administration believes the plan will be deficit neutral, though it will still need to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. They also did not disclose a price tag.

Obama feels the Republican calls for “starting from scratch doesn’t make sense,” Pfeiffer said, but the president will come to the summit with an “open mind.”

Read the entire plan here.

The White House will allow comments on the plan on their Web site.

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