Democrats and Republicans air differences on health reform in television summit

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 01 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1176
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

    Democrats and Republicans agreed to disagree in a seven hour healthcare summit chaired by President Barack Obama and broadcast live on national television on 25 February.

    The president said that both sides were close and asked them “to bridge the gap.” He said that for five decades attempts had been made to provide health care to all Americans and called for consensus on a “serious effort” to introduce legislation in a month or six weeks.

    He spoke of taking his daughters to the emergency room and thinking about what would he do if he were a parent without health insurance. He told how his mother, dying from ovarian cancer, spent the last six months of her life arguing over the telephone with insurance companies to cover her treatments.

    The unusual summit meeting was called by President Obama to make progress on the stalled health reform bills. Passing health reform is a priority for the president, who wants to provide health insurance to at least 31 million of America’s 46 million uninsured people.

    The House of Representatives and the Senate passed different bills late last year. An attempt to merge the bills ended when the Democrats lost a Senate seat, leaving them with only a 59 to 41 majority in the Senate (BMJ 2010;340:c463, doi:10.1136/bmj.c463). Sixty votes are needed to pass a bill in the Senate, while only …

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