Another lesson from President Bill Clinton's unsuccessful effort to reform health care is that Congress needs to be involved from the beginning. The Clinton administration developed a complex bill behind closed doors and then sent it to Congress, expecting that Congress would get behind the administration's proposal. The proposal died for many reasons, but one was that key members of Congress - the chairs of the congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care - were left out.
Members of Congress are determined not to let this happen again. Early indications today are that the Obama administration may be willing to defer to Congress on the development of legislation, as long as it meets the new President's key principles and priorities.
Today, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat from Montana, released an executive summary and detailed paper on his approach to health care reform legislation (FYI the complete document is over 100 pages so readers may think twice before downloading it). His views are critically important, because he chairs the Senate committee with jurisdiction over tax legislation, Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP.
I will provide more commentary on the Baucus plan tomorrow. Of interest, the proposal emphasizes the need to provide coverage to all Americans, to guarantee access to preventive services, and to strengthen primary care and chronic care management. Senator Baucus calls primary care "the keystone of a high performing health system."
More on the Baucus plan in tomorrow's post.