The Huffington Post‘s Sam Stein writes that splits are emerging in the Democratic party over health reform as President Barack Obama tries to stay out of the fray and allow legislators to put together the final reform proposal.
Party centrists, including newly minted Democrat Arlen Specter, oppose a publicly funded plan, while progressives like Howard Dean say reform would be worthless without one.
Stein reports that, mired in a complex and contentious reform discussion, some Democrats are looking to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for inspiration.
One thing that Democratic sources say the White House and Congress are looking closely at is the model Gavin Newsom has constructed in San Francisco, in which a universal program (at a relatively low cost) has been applied through the use of public clinics. Newsom met with administration officials as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this past week and came away convinced that something would have to be done “not in 16 months but in six months.” Helping to corral other mayors to support the president’s health care priorities, Newsom was appointed chair of the US Conference of Mayors’ Task Force on Health Care Reform.
On his weekly radio show on Saturday, Newsom will discuss the challenges Congress and the administration face in reforming the health care system with Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. Harkin also says Congress is looking at San Francisco’s universal health care program as a national public model. Harkin leads the Prevention and Public Health Working Group, which will craft the wellness and prevention portions of health reform legislation.