A new Associated Press report says the White House and members of Congress are contemplating a vastly scaled-down health care reform plan:
Chastened by the Democratic Senate loss in Massachusetts, President Barack Obama and congressional allies signaled Wednesday they will try to scale back his sweeping health care overhaul in an effort to at least keep parts of it alive.
A simpler, less ambitious bill emerged as an alternative only hours after the loss of the party's crucial 60th Senate seat forced the Democrats to slow their all-out drive to pass Obama's signature legislation and reconsider all options.
No decisions have been made, lawmakers said, but they laid out a new approach that could still include these provisions: limiting the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage to people with medical problems, allowing young adults to stay on their parents' policies, helping small businesses and low-income people pay premiums and changing Medicare to encourage payment for quality care instead of sheer volume of services.
Obama urged lawmakers not to try to jam a bill through, but scale the proposal down to what he called "those elements of the package that people agree on."
It's clear at least some congressional Democrats are interested in that strategy. One aide described just such an approach in an interview with TPM's Brian Beutler. But White House sources deny that they are promoting this same idea. Responding to an e-mail query about the AP story, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the account was "very wrong," adding that
Right now there are a lot of discussions going on about the best path forward. But let’s be clear: the President’s preference is to pass a bill that meets the principles he laid out months ago: more stability and security for those who have insurance, affordable coverage options for those who don’t, and lower costs for families, businesses, and governments.
In fairness, reading the story again, the AP's implication may simply be that Obama also supports a scaled-down plan--but not one as scaled-down as what some members of Congress are urging. In any event, make of this what you will.