Politico - Top White House Healthcare Official Reaches Out To Roskam
The top White House health care official requested a meeting with Republican Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) this week, a sign the Obama administration is trying to find new GOP partners on health care overhaul legislation.
Nancy-Ann DeParle, the director of the White House Office of Health Reform, spoke with Roskam by phone this afternoon about how to push forward with health care legislation.
Much of the dialogue centered on an amendment Roskam introduced in the Ways and Means committee in July that dealt with waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. The Illinois congressman said the White House seemed to be interested in the provision.
It turned into a "monologue," Roskam said, when he suggested Democrats move that item as an individual bill, along with issues like purchasing insurance across state lines and other cost-containment provisions.
He predicted Democrats would certainly find Republican support on a host of health-care related issues if they broke the legislation down into smaller pieces.
"This has to be broken down," Roskam said he told DeParle Friday afternoon. "So if you think this amendment is a good amendment, have the Speaker run it as a separate bill and let's go out and follow true on that."
Reaching out to Roskam is a window into Obama's strategy on bipartisanship -- Roskam is an old friend of Obama's from the Illinois legislature, he's on a path to Republican leadership and he's a well regarded member of the Ways and Means committee. Roskam is also not part of elected GOP leadership, so he may be a good target for a White House looking to forge new alliances.
Roskam was also a key Republican that Obama spoke with at the House Republican retreat in Baltimore two weeks ago.
An administration official said DeParle talks to Republican lawmakers "all the time, including Republicans who have interesting ideas about health reform."
Roskam hasn't signaled a good deal of leeway on voting for the health-care overhaul legislation in its current form. "Obamacare," he said, "has become toxic as a piece of legislation."
If the White House is looking to pick up votes by adopting "leftover" Republican provisions, they can count Roskam out, he said.
"Its legislative log rolling," Roskam told POLITICO after the phone call. "It's the oldest game in the book."
Roskam, a free-trade advocate, is also looking to negotiate with the White House on trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea -- so he may end up on the White House speed dial.