Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The Feb. 25 Healthcare Summit: Time to Transition from 'Yes We Can' to 'Yes We Will'
It starts at 10 AM here
President Obama has invited the Congressional leadership from both political parties to a televised Feb. 25 White House 'summit' on health reform. The Republicans are leery yet confident, the Democrats are grim and determined, and the bloggers promise to be on this thicker than cardiologists on a proposed fee reduction. Like other denizens of the blogmos, the Disease Management Care Blog looks forward to viewing the video, combing through the transcript and reading the participants' body language.
This could turn out to be grand political theater at its dysfunctional finest. Yet, while the DMCB is fed up with all the Machiavellism, it thinks the Feb. 25 meeting is a necessary evil. It could turn out to be the dark before the dawn - the cloud behind the silver lining.
Here's why. In order for bipartisan health care reform to succeed, the naive DMCB thinks it will need to devolve into the boring complicated policy-over-politics process that it really is. That means having many more competent, serious and responsible meetings dealing with stuff like entitlement reform and changing how providers are paid.
There are three ingredients that will help that happen:
1) the Republicans need to be 'win-win' kept at the table over the long term with the goal of giving everyone credit. They've demonstrated an ability to derail things and their cooperation has moved from optional to necessary.
2) with the usual exceptions, ongoing C-SPAN video style transparency is needed to keep posturing to a minimum. While the common wisdom is that public scrutiny could derail delicate negotiations, the DMCB is confident that the mainstream media will move on in its search for the salacious, leaving behind a committed viewership. Sure, it won't be pretty, but it'll be better than the big government reformists being trapped in a closed information loop.
3) our elected representatives are given free reign to behave badly at this kick-off meeting. To quote the Godfather's Clemenza, some opening-bell rancor will 'help to get rid of the bad blood.' The DMCB says it's OK if the Feb. 25 meeting serves as an opportunity to photo-op for each party's base. After that, it's time to roll up the sleeves and get to work.
So, watch the Feb. 25 meeting. If there are no plans to a) continue meetings b) in a televised manner, the DMCB will fear that health reform will truly remain in disarray. If there are plans for additional meetings and they fall off the news-cycle radar screen, we may have a chance at actually accomplishing something. This is how we'll know if the Obama Administration is stuck in campaign mode or is really interested in serious policy accomplishments.
It's time. Less Yes We Can and more Yes We Will.