Health reform summit planned; lobbyists eye Medicare-specific fixes

During this weekend's CBS Super Bowl coverage, President Barack Obama announced plans to hold a half-day healthcare reform summit on February 25, bringing together Democrats and Republicans in a live televised event, says the New York Times.

While Obama's stated goal for the summit is "to go through systematically all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward," the summit itself is part of the Administration's strategy to get Republicans involved in policy negotiations and put their initiatives under the media spotlight. Republicans have called for the current plans to be scrapped in favor of starting fresh. Obama declined the chance to start over, and didn't indicate whether he is willing to negotiate on issues Democrats have already settled among themselves.

President Obama still holds out hope that health reform can take place, but in the absence of concrete action, healthcare lobbyists are targeting the Senate jobs bill to move through several key Medicare provisions that were included in the House and Senate health reform bills, reports The Hill.

Both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee are working on similar measures to extend at least some Medicare provisions that expired January 1 or will soon expire. Among the fixes being sought: reinstatement of an exceptions process for the annual per-beneficiary dollar cap of Part B physical, speech and occupational therapy services; the restoration of special payments to large rural and small urban hospitals; and the reinstatement of bonuses to rural doctors.

To learn more about the summit:
- read the Times article
- here's The Hill article