The White House has prepared a contingency plan in case today’s summit fails to generate enough support for his $950 billion proposal — a stripped down plan that would insure half as many Americans at one quarter the cost by expanding Medicaid and S-CHIP and allowing individuals to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26:
As he was weighing his choices, Mr. Obama asked his staff to show him what a more modest policy might look like, and the plan to cover about 15 million people was the most promising, a senior White House official said. “He wanted people to look at what effect you could have on the overall problem if you have to go smaller,” the official said.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel didn’t devise the smaller policy, the official said. But Mr. Emanuel argued that it wasn’t feasible to pass a comprehensive bill and counseled a lesser version, according to several people familiar with the conversations. Others argued that Democrats were going to take a political hit by voting for a health-care bill no matter what, and they should opt for a sweeping measure whose benefits would be easier to highlight.