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House Republicans Confused About Their Health Care Alternative

By Igor Volsky  

"House Republicans Confused About Their Health Care Alternative"

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As Republicans work to derail the President’s health care reform effort, they seem uncertain about their own health care agenda. After agreeing to “develop real solutions to improve our health care system” in February, pledging to “lead the effort to make health care work for Americans” in March, insisting that “no report or headline can take the place of a comprehensive plan” in June, and arguing that the Republican plan is “actually much more detailed than their [Democratic] plan has been” in July, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chair of the GOP Health Care Solutions Group, is unsure if Republicans want to fix health care through legislation.

Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-SC) introduced the Patients’ Choice Act during HELP Committee mark-up, but House Republicans have yet to rally behind a single alternative or offer any substantive details or legislative language. On Wednesday, Blunt said, “Our bill is never going to get to the floor, so why confuse the focus? We clearly have principles; we could have language, but why start diverting attention from this really bad piece of work they’ve got to whatever we’re offering right now?”

But today, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the Republican whip, suggested that Republicans would divert “attention” from the Democrats’ plan. “We have plenty of plans, we have a plan out there, we have legislation out there…we will have a bill, and we have bills”:

We will have a bill, and we have bills, I mean this is what I don’t understand about the question, we have bills there is a Republican plan out there …will it be in the form of an amendment, will it be in the form of a bill. I mean we have several bills out there, with pay-fors, with a vision and direction for where we need to go … We’ve got plenty of alternative bills out there, I mean this is where I think some of the confusion lies is that the Republican alternatives are numerous.

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Blunt and Cantor, who routinely misrepresent and fear-monger about the Democratic proposal, also blamed Democrats for their own failure to produce legislation, falsely suggesting that “the majority would not let us offer our ideas…we can’t bring our ideas forward if they won’t have the meetings to let us bring them forward.”

In lieu of detailed legislation or any meaningful proposal to pay for reform or lower overall health care spending, Republicans have offered glossy talking points and so-called “principles for reform.” While they claim to support the existing employer-based system of coverage and “allowing Americans to keep what they have,” a close examination of their half-baked proposals suggests that Republicans would only break-up employer-based coverage, endanger the coverage of Americans with pre-existing conditions, and drive-up health care spending.

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