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Health Care Summit Run-Up: Table-Shape Dispute Settled

5 years ago
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In a mini-squabble calling to mind high-level diplomatic talks, the Obama administration and its Republican guests at Thursday's health care summit faced off in intense preliminary discussions about . . . the shape of the table for their sit-down at Blair House, across the street from the White House.

The president's emissaries favored a U-shaped table that would have had Obama and Vice President Joe Biden seated at the head with lawmakers in front of them on either side, like an audience, The Washington Post reported.

Uh-oh. Republicans balked, not wishing to be upstaged at the televised event and find themselves in a situation similar to their retreat in Baltimore last month, when Obama -- himself the guest -- unexpectedly opened a question-and-answer session to television cameras.

A hollow-squared table up was eventually agreed to and the summit is scheduled at 10 a.m., running till as late as 4 p.m.

At least 19 Republicans are expected to be there, including Sen. John McCain and two senator-doctors, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John Barrasso of Wyoming. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will lead a Democratic delegation.

Although Obama and members of his administration will open discussions on cost containment, insurance reform, deficit reduction and expansion of coverage, Republicans plan to be ready with their own ideas, including the use of private markets to hold down costs and provide wider coverage, the Post said.

A buffet lunch will be served.

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