The Republicans are introducing yet another alternative to the Democrats’ health care plan. This leadership-backed proposal — developed by Rep. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) ‘working solutions’ health care group — rhetorically compliments earlier alternatives but offers little in the way of solutions. The Republicans have issued a set of talking points, not a comprehensive reform proposal.
Rather than focusing on reducing the growth of health care costs and extending coverage to every single American, for instance, Republicans are proposing implementing comprehensive “medical liability reform” — the total cost of malpractice constitutes just 0.46 percent of total health care expenditures — eliminating “waste fraud and abuse,” providing “new refundable and advanceable tax credits,” and improving health savings accounts.
The focus is messaging, not policy. During multiple appearances on MSNBC for instance, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) framed the Republican alternative as “an American plan,” implying that the Democrats are proposing an anti-American plan or perhaps an Italian health care reform plan. Pressed for details of the Republican proposal, Camp could only offer “we are going to try to incentivize people to go into the health insurance market and get coverage.”
Also on MSNBC, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) attempted to co-opt the President’s language by insisting that the Republican alternative would provide Americans with greater choice. Pressed by the Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel on how he can oppose giving Americans the choice of a government health care plan while receiving health care from the government, Cantor demurred.
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On the whole, the plan does very little to cover the uninsured, protect individuals from predatory insurance practices or extend coverage to more Americans. The draft “encourages states to use new and existing programs to guarantee all Americans, regardless of pre-exising conditions or past illnesses, have access to affordable coverage” and helps Americans eligible for employer-based plans to enroll in coverage.
Given the dearth of ideas, it’s no surprise that “the public doesn’t exactly have a tremendous amount of confidence in Republican leaders on the issue.” According to a new Gallup poll, only “34% are confident that GOP leaders Congress will make the right decisions about health care reform — less than the insurance companies (35%) or the pharmaceutical companies (40%).”