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Will The View Be Clearer At The Summit?

by Scott Bittle

Friday, February 12th, 2010

You'll be able to watch the White House summit on health care reform live on both webcast and television, which may be an advance for government transparency. But will the bipartisan summit be an advance for the public in clarity on this tough issue?

Anticipation is certainly high for the summit. President Obama put the Democrats' proposals on the table earlier this week, and the Republicans are expected to arrive with their own plan. There's been a lot of argument, and fierce debate over whether the summit itself is a real opportunity or just political theatre.

One of the greatest challenges during the long debate over health care has been making the options understandable to the public. But in our view, all through this process there hasn't been enough effort by leaders to help people weigh alternatives and work through the tradeoffs inherent in any reform plan and that process of thinking about options is essential to real public engagement.

So with that in mind, we'd like to suggest a few useful tools as a viewer's guide to the summit. Our Citizen's Survival Kit on health care reform, prepared for the last election, sums up the key issues and lays out some of the basic choices. Essentially, the kit provides the big picture on an issue where it's really easy to get lost in the details.

To compare some of the current choices on the table now, have a look at the Kaiser Family Foundation's side-by-side summary of the proposals before Congress. It's just been updated to include President Obama's latest proposals.

Finally, it helps to have a glossary, and a sense of history, both in this case provided by the Prescriptions blog at The New York Times.


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