Albuquerque, NM – New Mexico U.S. Senator Tom Udall says his meeting with President Obama Tuesday left him feeling optimistic about the future of healthcare overhaul legislation in Congress.
"One of the things I've always been impressed by is how cool and calm and collected he is and I guess the overall theme that he emphasized was, you know, we're going to get this done. He emphasized that eighty percent of the package we're in agreement on. And really there are just some outstanding issues that we need to work through, but you can see from the bills that are circulating in both the House and the Senate that there is significant agreement."
Udall says there now seems to be consensus on requiring early prevention programs, enacting delivery system reform to reduce administrative costs of insurance, disallowing pre-existing conditions exclusions, and making sure the overhaul is deficit-neutral.
He says he's been getting "thousands of calls" from constituents on healthcare, and about five thousand letters a week. The Democrat says his read is that people want healthcare reform, but are split on the details. Udall says Obama stressed that information is changing public opinion about overhauling healthcare.
"With all of the things that had happened, it was right now about fifty fifty. But as soon as you got into the details, and you started telling people, you know, we're gonna resolve that whole issue of pre-existing conditions, and we're also going to make sure that if you leave a job, you can continue to have your healthcare in the next job. When they got the details, there was a nineteen percent gain in supporting healthcare reform."
Udall says he's also interested in looking at ways to get states to use medical legal boards, such as the one in New Mexico, to handle malpractice suits. That could, he said, reduce the number of lawsuits.