White House Asks GOP To Come To Health Care Summit With A Plan

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this afternoon invited key Congressional leaders to the Feb. 25 health care summit, an event that will be broadcast live in its entirety.

“The President will offer opening remarks at the beginning of the meeting, followed by remarks from a Republican leader chosen by the Republican leadership and a Democratic leader chosen by the Democratic leadership,” Emanuel and Sebelius wrote in their letter, which you can read in full here.

“The President will then open and moderate discussion on four critical topics: insurance reforms, cost containment, expanding coverage, and the impact health reform legislation will have on deficit reduction,” they added.

The administration will post online the text of a proposed health insurance reform package, Emanuel and Sebelius wrote.

The invitees – leadership from both parties – were asked to attend the all-day summit at the Blair House, which has been used for Cabinet retreats.The White House says they expect real results from the meeting, and President Obama will ask Republicans to present their own comprehensive plan.

“In the last year, there has been an extraordinary effort to craft effective legislation. There have been hundreds of hours of committee hearings and mark-ups in both the House of Representatives and Senate, with nearly all of those sessions televised on C-SPAN,” Emanuel and Sebelius wrote. “The Senate spent over 160 hours on the Senate floor considering health insurance reform legislation and, for the first time in history, both the House of Representatives and Senate have approved comprehensive health reform legislation. This is the closest our Nation has been to resolving this issue in the nearly 100 years that it has been debated.”

Also in the letter, which the White House posted on its blog, was a note to members that they could each designate four more lawmakers to attend and participate in the meeting, along with health care policy staffers.

Emanuel and Sebelius say that Vice President Joe Biden, and Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of the Office of Health Reform, and staffers from the Office of Management and Budget will be on hand. They also “hope” aides from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation will attend.