Senators Tom Daschle and Bob Dole are quoted in an amednews.com article that discusses the Bipartisan Policy Center’s commitment to health care issues. The Bipartisan Policy Center was formed in 2007 by Howard Baker (R-TN), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Bob Dole (R-KS) and George Mitchell (D-ME) to create consensus policy plans on national security, energy, agriculture, transportation and health care. The first stage of the center’s health care project includes four public forums conducted by each senator, which will contribute to a reform proposal that the group can advocate in Congress and at the White House.
"Our hope is to solicit the views of as broad of an array of participants as we can make contact with," said Daschle and Dole agreed that input will come from outside of the policy center. Dole and Daschle said that partisanship does not extend into the policy center, "We start with a good chemistry and a good working relationship, and we hope we can build on that." Dole said, "That’s why we have a chance [to succeed]…There are no bomb throwers in this group."
Daschle commented that because the health care system has worsened, reform could be easier for Congress to adopt today than in the early 1990’s. "My view is that people who may be totally against any change have come around to the view that something is going to happen, and we better get ready," Daschle said.
Daschle believes the health system faces three interrelated problems: affordability, quality and access. He added that, "We don’t have anywhere near the best health care system in the world, and we should acknowledge that. We have islands of excellence, but those islands are in a sea of mediocrity." Dole agrees that affordability and access are issues and stated, "Overall, we have a good system. How do you make a good system better and make it more available to the little kid down the block who’s 5 years old and has never seen a doctor?" Dole favors limited government involvement in the health care system, while Daschle presented the concept of a national board to oversee the U.S. health system, similarly to the way the Federal Reserve regulates the financial sector.
Dole said that he does not have any preconceived notions concerning the project, "If you ask me today which way we’re going, I would have no idea. We don’t want to have any ideas at this point. We’re trying to gather information."