President Obama and key congressional leaders just wrapped up a summit on health care late this afternoon. Despite the seeming spirit of bipartisanship, little agreement resulted from the meeting.
Although the tone of the meeting was generally amicable, while wrapping up the summit, the President chastised Republicans for attacking the "MedPac Commission". The “Independent Payment Advisory Board” he referred to is a board which is given the authority to recommend, and gives the HHS Secretary the authority to limit the right to use one's own money to save one's own life. He said, “If we are serious about squeezing out the waste, you should embrace those mechanisms [IMAP] that are in the bill.” For more on this controversial provision, see here.
Sen. Rockefeller (D-Wv.) also provided an interesting insight saying, "Sometimes decisions have to come from Washington." The 'decisions' he touched on in his remarks today were 1. government review of premium rates, 2. the imposition of "loss ratios", and 3. the establishment of a Medicare commissions (meant to make cuts to Medicare). For further analysis of Rockefeller promoting these same idea in the Senate see here and here. Other than Rockefeller's open and impassioned plea for more bureaucratic control, the congressional members mainly stuck to their usual rhetoric, be it - eliminating preexisting condition discrimination, or beefing up medical malpractice reform.
Despite the meeting, administration officials and Democratic congressional leaders already have made it clear that they remain committed to enactment of the essence of the rationing health bill passed by the Senate in December, H.R. 3590. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, has said that effort to enact the legislation will "accelerate" after the February 25 summit.
Obama, Pelosi (D-Ca.), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) have also been reported to be planning to have the Senate pass a second, smaller bill, containing certain changes to H.R. 3590, using reconciliation. This process would be immune from a Republican filibuster. Pelosi would then push the House to pass both the original Senate-passed H.R. 3590 and the new package of changes at about the same time, and President Obama would sign both bills into law.