Posted by: Jeff | January 13, 2010

The White House Steps Up

Good news on the health care bill.

President Barack Obama has told House Democrats that he intends to use the Senate bill as the framework for the final legislation. But the administration is pushing for a handful of House-backed provisions, including the federally run exchange, according to the official.

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer declined to comment on the talks and dismissed reports about administration positions as “at best educated guesses.”

Proponents of a federal exchange say state exchanges could have too few enrollees to function well, or might have enrollees who on average are too sick. Those who favor state exchanges say they would allow for more flexible regulation than one-size-fits-all standards set in Washington.

The White House also is working to increase the amount of the proposed subsidies that would help offset the cost of buying insurance for lower earners. The administration wants to bring them closer to the House levels, and is exploring with lawmakers how to do that while keeping the price tag around $900 billion over a decade, the target set by Mr. Obama.

Last week, I wrote that my preference would be for the White House to intervene in the legislative negotiations in favor of the Senate’s excise tax, and the House’s approach to subsidies and the exchanges. Now it looks like that’s more or less what they’re doing. Color me encouraged.

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