Since John McCain’s election defeat, Republicans have struggled to redefine their party. McCain’s health care policy, though, is never too far from their minds.
Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has tapped former GOP Whip Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) to lead the group of 16 Republicans, including McCain health advisers Michael Burgess and John Shadegg. “Through this working group, Republicans will develop real solutions to improve our health care system by putting patients before paperwork and frivolous lawsuits,” Blunt promised.
At the group’s first meeting, “members reviewed polling data and agreed to bring in a series of experts to discuss problems with the health care system and potential solutions.” Of course if the group’s McCain-like rhetoric is any indication, the GOP could have saved itself the trouble of reviewing polls. Voters rejected McCain’s so-called consumer driven health care plan and public opinion strongly favors a progressive solution:
- A majority of Americans say the federal government should guarantee health insurance to every American, especially children, and are willing to pay higher taxes to do it.
- 81% favor requiring large companies either to offer health insurance coverage to their employees or to pay into a pool that would be used to pay for health insurance.
The polls do suggest that Americans are receptive to some parts of the GOP health template, namely portability of insurance, giving tax breaks to small businesses to allow them to provide health insurance and reducing government regulation to allow more health insurance providers to compete in the system. And while conservatives will certainly emphasize these portions, their overall ideology — health care is a consumer good — will not win many converts.