Saturday, November 7, 2009

Republican Leader Press Office

From The Detroit News

GOP offers cheaper approach to health reform
November 6, 2009

Republicans are offering an alternative health reform plan that should at least be debated before Congress rushes to turn the nation's health care system inside out.

But that likely won't happen. The House is poised to vote today or tomorrow on a health care package that, despite fierce objections from moderates and conservatives who fear it will result in higher taxes, bigger deficits and lesser coverage for most Americans, still contains most of the egregious elements of the initial proposal.

Republicans recognize that they have to do more than say "no" to the Democratic ideas. So they've put together a bill, with the help of Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, containing less costly and disruptive reforms.

The ideas are solid. Unfortunately, they come too late to have much influence on a bill that almost certainly will be passed in the House with few or no GOP votes. But perhaps Republicans can use the plan to force a more responsible compromise in the Senate.

The GOP bill is less ambitious than the plan being rammed through by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, taking an incremental approach to restructuring the system.

It uses market-based principles and does not include government subsidies or a public option.

But it would trim costs through strict limits on medical malpractice lawsuits, expanding health savings accounts, allowing consumers to buy insurance from out-of-state companies, providing tax breaks for insurance purchases, making it easier for small businesses to offer their employees insurance and breaking down barriers to coverage for the most hard-to-insure Americans.

While the proposal should increase the number of insured, it does not provide coverage for everyone. Tax deductions and health savings accounts aren't much use to those with no or very low income.

But it is far cheaper than the Democratic proposal, whose cost has soared to $1.3 trillion during the next decade; it won't add to the federal budget deficit and it does not require a massive new government bureaucracy to administer.

It fulfills many of the promises made by President Barack Obama -- it aggressively controls costs, it guarantees Americans can keep their existing plans, and it increases competition in the insurance industry -- far better than the Pelosi bill. The GOP plan deals strictly with cost and access and avoids the distractive intrusions into personal health care choices contained in the Democratic package.

The idea of enacting reform on a smaller scale and at a more deliberate pace ought to have some appeal to a Congress that has been inundated by concerns from constituents worried that the Democratic proposal will radically change the system, and not for the better.

Republicans are doing what a responsible opposition party should do -- offering an alternative that reflects their values and is a practical solution to an issue that has grown far too divisive.

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