GOP is Feeling Left Out of Health Reform Debate, Calls for Meeting with Obama

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , May 15, 2009

Leading House Republicans, apparently unhappy over being excluded from a Wednesday meeting with the president over healthcare reform and later a closed-door meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to draft health reform legislation, are calling for President Barack Obama to meet with them.

On Wednesday, Obama was joined on the South Lawn of the White House by Democrats key in moving health reform through the House: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Rep. George Miller (D-CA). At that session, Pelosi predicted that "legislation will be on the floor of the House before the end of July."

Missing were any Republicans. In a letter to the president, the members of the House GOP Solutions Group on Health Care Reform, headed up by Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), they said they wished to express their "sincere desire to work with you and find common ground on the issue of healthcare reform."

They agreed with the president on various reform objectives, such as giving individuals the right to choose the health coverage they wanted and improving lives through prevention, and wellness and disease management programs. However, they did not spell out any further proposals on coverage, but said they are currently working on "crafting a plan that will achieve the goals we share."

The nine-member group called for a meeting to discuss areas for "potential common ground on healthcare reform."

Meanwhile, Republicans said they were left out of an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing yesterday to begin drafting reform legislation. In a statement, Blunt criticized Democrats for not answering how reform initiatives would be funded, but said the members of the Health Care Solutions Group were ready to work with them.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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