"Over the past year, the process of debating this issue often overwhelmed the substance of fixing the problem. The Obama Administration declared health care reform to be a major domestic objective, but they did not offer the Congress a bill. Nor did they propose a specific set of objectives from which legislation could be derived. Consequently, legislation was developed independently through five different Congressional committees, three in the House and two in the Senate. This resulted in a large amount of contradictory information and a great deal of confusion among our public."
The Obama administration had a specific political rationale for this strategy: as the conventional wisdom goes, they didn’t want to make the mistake of the Clinton administration of wasting all the momentum for the bill by secreting themselves and coming up with their own bill; in the meantime, Congress had been developing their own ideas; the conflict of the two caused Congress to feel miffed and territorial.
But there was an easy way of solving the territorial problem while still coming up with one specific bill, while avoiding the problem of the dragging August recess (which did a lot to kill momentum for the bill): you gather together all of the relevant Democrats, with a few amenable Republicans, and you do some health care summit—maybe with part public, to educate the public as to the specific problems and solutions—and then don’t leave until you’ve all agree on the language of the bill. You leave some room for amendments, and boom. Simple, easy. It’s only a theory, but I think it’s a pretty good one.