Obama presses insurance companies, Democrats on healthcare reform

Mar 5th, 2010 | By Hot News Reporter | Category: Insurance Today

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday urged insurance companies not to block health reform while calling on congressional Democrats to show their support for a comprehensive bill.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a meeting with largest health insurance companies at the White House, where Obama stopped by and had talks with the CEOs, according to the White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Obama urged “insurance companies not to block comprehensive health insurance reform,” said Gibbs.

“The Secretary asked them to provide the American people with the actuarial data that would justify, in an environment where health insurance costs are going up at 5 or 6 percent, how to justify insurance rate increases at 39 and 40 percent,” he added.

Gibbs also said that he believes the House is on schedule to pass the legislation by March 18, when the president leaves for Indonesia and Australia, and signs it into law shortly thereafter.

Obama summoned more than a dozen House Democrats to the White House Thursday, eliciting their support for his year-long healthcare efforts.

The Obama administration is now pushing the health bill through Congress by a legislative maneuver called “reconciliation,” which only needs a simple majority in the Senate to pass a budget bill, since Democrats no longer have a filibuster-proof supermajority of 60 votes after losing a Massachusetts special Senate election in January.

For a successful “reconciliation,” Obama has to first get the Senate bill through the House, which passed its own healthcare legislation on a narrow 220-115 margin last year.

It is now highly unpredictable whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can muster enough votes in the chamber, as conservative House Democrats have been voicing concerns about the Senate bill’s lack of strict anti-abortion language, and threatened to change “yes” into “no.”

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