Back-Room Consensus: Require Health Insurance for All

Kennedy leads meetings with industry
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Feb 20, 2009 11:55 AM CST
Sen. Barack Obama talks about health care with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Yearly Kos Convention's Presidential Leadership Forum in Chicago, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2007.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A series of unprecedented back-room meetings among the biggest players in health care is close to a consensus: Any new legislation will require that every American have insurance, the New York Times reports. The next part, of course, is trickier: figuring out how to enforce it, how to make it affordable, and whether to put the onus on employers. One idea floated: a tax penalty on individuals who choose to go without even if they can afford it.

The meetings, run by Ted Kennedy, include representatives of drug companies, insurers, consumers, hospitals, and doctors. The idea is to avoid the fate of the Clinton reform failure by getting the industry on board early. While the Obama administration isn’t represented, it approves of the process. And though disagreements are bound to persist, a business lobbyist says, “The air of cooperation toward a common end is quite refreshing.”