HOUSTON (KTRK) -- As President Obama heads into a bipartisan health care summit this Thursday, the White House for the first time unveiled its own health care plan. It is essentially the Senate Democratic health care bill, but with a couple changes -- an individual mandate requiring everyone to buy insurance, and an expansion of Medicaid.
Republicans, who wanted to start healthcare reform from scratch, gave it an instant thumbs down.
In addition, the president's plan would expand the original bill offered only to union members, delaying a new tax on expensive, so-called Cadillac plans for everyone until 2018.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was one of the main authors of the house version of the health care reform. Pelosi was in Houston to promote the effects of the administration's stimulus package Monday, but many simply wanted to know if President Obama's latest healthcare proposal will actually become reality.
Pelosi held the long planned round-table discussion with Port of Houston authorities early Monday morning, but it occurred just hours after President Obama unveiled a revamped health plan, a plan the speaker says has potential.
"Equity for the states that is in this bill, closing the loophole for seniors on Medicare, those kinds of initiatives, and a change of how the legislation is paid for," Pelosi said.
While Speaker Pelosi says she plans to encourage all sides to look into the latest, at least one member of the Texas delegation says the new bill looks a lot like the old ideas.
"His idea is to move healthcare from the private sector to the government sector," said Republican Representative Ted Poe. "That's the biggest problem with it, plus we don't have the money, the taxpayers don't have the money and Congress can't afford to appropriate the money to pay for it."
In reality, neither Republicans like Poe, or even the speaker herself, have had a chance to pour over the fine points of the proposal , which includes:
· Barring insurers from setting lifetime caps or denying coverage of pre-existing conditions
· State health insurance exchanges to ensure competition
· No government-run public option
As for health professionals who must navigate our healthcare system daily, at least one says he hasn't seen anything for either side he likes.
"The Republicans haven't even offered a plan that I've seen unless I've completely missed it, and the Democrats' plan is again focusing too much on throwing money at a problem without addressing the actual problem," said Nephrologist Dr. Uday Khosla.
After this morning's meeting, Speaker Pelosi and members of the Texas delegations all headed back up to DC. The bipartisan summit will take place on Thursday.
MAKING THE PORT AN EXAMPLE
Pelosi and other Democrats were holding up the Port of Houston as a shining example of the positive impact of last year's $787 billion economic stimulus package.
Speaker Pelosi and the other lawmakers wre at the port Monday. They claim there are 3,500 new jobs there thanks to The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As a result of the act, the port was awarded nearly $100 million.
The Democratic lawmakers say that money was then used to create the 3,500 jobs.
But some local Republican congressmen disagree with Pelosi's statement. Houston-area Congressmen Kevin Brady, John Culberson, Michael McCaul, Ted Poe and Pete Olson issued a statement ahead of Pelosi's visit to the Port of Houston.
The congressmen said because of the actions of the Obama administration, the Johnson Space Center and BAE Systems' military vehicle production facility together stand to lose nearly 20,000 jobs.
The congressmen said, "If Speaker Pelosi is truly concerned about the welfare of our state and our economy, we invite her to visit these fine institutions and meet with their outstanding employees."
After the news conference, Pelosi took a few questions. When asked about the plan for health care she told Eyewitness News that she had not read the full bill unveiled by President Obama, however, she thinks they were very close to a deal.
(Copyright ©2010 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
To view this article online click here