During an interview with ABC’s Top Line, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) admitted that the Democrats have the “right” to pass health care reform through the reconciliation process. “It is their right. It is what they can do,” Ryan admitted.
But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. “In order to have bipartisanship, you have to have collaboration and that means the party in power must want to willingly collaborate with the minority to actually write legislation from the beginning.” “Here in the House, there is no collaboration whatsoever. We are not invited to any meetings, we are not asked to participate in the legislative drafting of these bills,” he complained.
But as I argue here, Ryan has it backwards. While Democrats have been willing to consider dissenting opinion, Republicans are more interested in defeating reform than shaping health legislation. In fact, just yesterday “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said he plans to meet with Republican lawmakers informally this week to discuss some of the thornier parts of an effort to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system:”
Hoyer told reporters on Capitol Hill that he intends to meet with Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chairman of the House Republican Health Care Caucus, this week to continue a discussion on comparative-effectiveness research and a public health-plan option—among other measures—that have proven to be sticking points between the two parties…I also believe that there is an opportunity for us to try to work together and come to an agreement on issues.’, [Hoyer said].
Meanwhile, Republicans are either reproducing the McCain campaign’s old health policy proposals or smearing progressive alternatives. The first draft of the so-called GOP alternative budget, for instance, echoed the the disingenuous attacks of Betsy McCaughey, Sally Pipes, and Conservatives for Patients Rights.
In fact, this report read like a Betsy McCaughey editorial (complete with a government-health care “horror stories” section):
- Will technological advances continue to spark cutting-edge medical treatments, or will price controls and federal regulation stifle innovation and prevent life-saving breakthroughs?
- Will doctors be able to decide the best treatments for their patients, or will government bureaucrats ration and restrict access to care in an arbitrary fashion?
- Will the federal government take action now to slow the growth of health costs and bring entitlement spending under control, or will expansive—and expensive—new government programs cripple future generations in an avalanche of debt?
- Democrats propose nearly $1 trillion in new spending on health care reform as a mere “down payment” for additional spending to come.
- In a government-run health care system, bureaucrats would exercise increasing control over all health care decision-making and would resort to rationing of care as the sole means to control skyrocketing costs. Such rationing would import not only the policies of other countries, but their horror stories.
- And while Democrats would encourage doctors not to prescribe treatments that could help their patients if a bureaucrat refused to approve it, their plan would do little to reform the skyrocketing medical liability costs that plague the American health care system.
Several reports have indicated that the GOP health care study group “plans to release a framework for overhauling the health care system.” But if this paper is any indication of the kind of serious policy thinking the GOP is willing to engage in, then bipartisanship will be difficult to come by.