Healthcare Reform Summit Yields Little Consensus

Obama challenges lawmakers to finalize legislation in six weeks or less

Lawmakers agreed that consumers shouldn’t be denied coverage or penalized because of pre-existing conditions or if they fall sick. But Democrats believe that’s why coverage should be mandated while Republicans countered that there should instead be high-risk pools [JJ2] from which people could buy coverage. Democrats who think such pools would come with an astronomical cost that few people could afford decried the latter notion.

Republicans also argued against the White House proposal [JJ3] delivered earlier this week, which is closely based on the Senate bill and would cover more than 30 million people over 10 years, saying it was unaffordable.

“Today’s summit should have been used to start anew because Americans simply don’t agree with the Democrats’ approach,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia), who chairs the Republican Study Committee[JJ4] . “Amidst all the talk, one contrast stood out with crystal clarity. The Democrat plan operates on the assumption that Washington knows best while we believe the best solutions will be found by putting patients first. This fundamental divide has been the basis of debate for the past year. All we saw today was another seven hours of it.”

“One of the repeated references throughout the day is that the American people don’t want this,” said Dr. Henrie Treadwell, director of Community Voices at Morehouse College of Medicine. “I think when they say that it’s a way of segregating Americans who are people of color and who work in jobs that don’t provide insurance or who’ve been chronically unemployed for so long that nobody counts them anymore, but they still get sick.”

Treadwell added that many African Americans who don’t get coverage at work actually buy insurance, but the deductibles are so high that they get little or no value for the dollars spent.

A huge majority of the 30 million people that Obama’s plan proposes to cover would be African Americans and other minorities, and includes significant emphasis on wellness and prevention, said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland).

“That’s very important in our community because one of the many reasons we have such a high level of health disparity between whites and blacks is because, so often, we get treatment late. And that’s a problem,” Cummings said. “So we go in sicker and it takes a lot more to get us well.”

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