On the heels of his call for a more bipartisan White House, Wheaton Republican Congressman Peter Roskam said a top Obama health care official reached out to him Friday for his ideas on how to proceed.
Roskam said he spoke with President Barack Obama's health care reform director for nearly 30 minutes, during which he outlined the steps he thought the president should take on key provisions on which there is thought to be widespread support.
Specifically, Roskam said there was interest in a proposal he'd filed regarding Medicare fraud and waste. He said he recommended the president push to have that plan, along with a proposal to let people shop across state lines for health coverage, be voted on individually, rather than rolled into a massive plan with other, unpopular provisions.
"If they're serious, then move and get a commitment from Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi to move it and not load up the bill," Roskam said.
Obama, a Chicago Democrat, and Roskam are former Illinois Senate colleagues. During their tenure in Springfield, they were often the lead debaters for their respective parties on key legal and social policies.
The two Illinois politicians again shared the spotlight recently when, during Obama's televised meeting with House Republicans, Roskam openly wondered what had happened to the talented dealmaker he'd known back in Springfield, the one who could reach across party lines to find agreement and get things done.
Roskam said he's sure that exchange is why he got a call Friday.
"Back in the old days he (Obama) had the flexibility to sit down and negotiate," Roskam said.
Asked if he feared being painted as an Obama patsy within Republican circles, Roskam said that would not happen. He said he made it clear if the White House expects Republican votes, then the president needed to start getting behind individual proposals that Republicans are comfortable with and have supported.