Why Olympia Snowe Won’t be There and Other Summit-Related News

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Can you feel the excitement in the air? Cable news can. There was a flurry of health care-related news today, most of it summit specific.

For starters, this morning, the White House specifically invited Olympia Snowe to the event. (She is the only Senate Republican to have cast a vote in favor of health reform in 2009 – for the Senate Finance Committee bill.) But since her own leadership apparently did not want her there, Snowe declined the White House’s late invitation, and a spokesman said in a statement (h/t Chuck Todd):

“Senator Snowe did receive a call from the White House this morning to attend tomorrow’s bipartisan health care summit. While she greatly appreciates the invitation, the Republican leadership understood the rules of the summit, as established by the Administration weeks ago, were that the Democratic and Republican leadership would select their own members to participate in the event. The Republican leadership had long since selected their team and therefore, it would have been inappropriate for Senator Snowe, under those circumstances, to accept the invitation. This is a summit between the leadership and the President and she believes it is a critical opportunity for the respective leadership teams to convey their ideas directly with the President. Throughout this process, Senator Snowe has been sharing her views with the White House and she assured the White House today that she will continue to play a leadership role on this vital issue in the days and weeks after tomorrow’s event.”

In other news:

Sen. Kent Conrad said health reform is “dead” if the House can’t pass the Senate bill.

Sen. Tom Harkin predicts Democrats will get health reform done by Easter.

Rep. Bart Stupak says as many as 20 House Democrats may not support the President’s health care plan. Not surprisingly, this has made him attractive to Republicans and House Minority Leader John Boehner is inviting Stupak to the summit since the Democrats won’t. It’s not yet clear if Stupak will accept, however.

Rep. Anthony Weiner said – more than once – that “the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry!”

Despite this, the House passed a bill to remove health insurers anti-trust exemption by a rather large margin.

Igor Volsky offers Republicans and Democrats a blueprint for finding common ground on Thursday.

Anthem Blue Cross attempted to defend itself and its rate hikes before a House committee. Now the Senate is piling on.

And Kaiser Health News draws up a nifty chart showing that Obama health care plan is strikingly similar to…a 1993 plan from a Republican.