At today’s House Republican retreat, President Obama emphasized the Republican ideas in the House and Senate health care bills and called on the party to abandon their harsh rhetoric and work on reform in a bipartisan manner. “[F]rom the start I sought out and supported ideas from Republicans, I even talked about an issue that has been a holy grail from a lot of you and said I would be willing to work together as part of a comprehensive package to deal with it. I just didn’t get a lot of nibbles,” Obama said before listing 3 or 4 Republican policies that are part of both health care reform bills.
During the question and answer session, however, the GOP still insisted that all of their ideas had been ignored. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) — who just this summer engaged in a misleading campaign to trick physicians into opposing health care reform– accused Obama of “repeatedly” saying “that Republicans have offered no ideas and no solutions” and touted the health care solutions offered at GOP.gov. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) even provided the President with a book of GOP solutions.
So what do these ideas entail? Like Democrat proposals, Republicans solutions would prohibit health plans from setting arbitrary annual or lifetime spending caps, eliminates rescissions, allow insurers to sell policies across state lines, and require insurance plans to cover dependents up through their 25th birthday. The Democratic health care bills incorporate some of these ideas in modified form. As Obama explained of the “across-state-lines” idea, “we include that as part of our approach. But the caveat is, we’ve got to do so with some minimum standards, because otherwise what happens is that you could have insurance companies circumvent a whole bunch of state regulations about basic benefits or what have you, making sure that a woman is able to get mammograms as part of preventive care, for example.”
Republican solutions promise to “take meaningful steps to lower health care costs and increase access to health insurance coverage” “without (1) raising taxes; (2) cutting Medicare benefits for seniors; (3) adding to the national deficit; (4) intervening in the doctor-patient relationship; or (5) instituting a government takeover of health care.” In short, Republican solutions take small steps towards regulating insurers, but do very little to lower health care costs for sicker Americans or control overall health care costs. In practice, their policies simply shift the costs and risks of insurance onto individuals and fragment the insurance market into low-cost plans for the healthy and high-cost insurance for the sick. Below is a summary of the plan House Republicans introduced in the House: Read more