Price frames GOP response to Obama healthcare speech

In focusing on how "quality" would be defined and the prospect of the government making patients' insurance decisions, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) provided a preview of the GOP's reaction to President Obama's Monday healthcare speech.

On a conference call sponsored by the Republican National Committee, Price, a physician, said there are two major criticisms of Obama healthcare reform principles.

"Number one," he said in classic GOP pre-buttal style, "where are medical decisions going to be made?"

Obama's plan, Price said, would take the authority to make medical decisions away from patients and doctors.

Secondly, price said the government would define was "quality" medical care is. Therefore if the government determines an individuals healthcare is not up to its standards, that individual may be forced to enroll in the government run program.

"It crowds out individuals who are eligible for that plan and moves them into the government run program," he said.

That first criticism appears a bit misleading, though. Price sharply criticized Obama's plan as taking away decision making authority from patients and doctors. At first glance, that sounds like it means that the government would be making individual healthcare decisions - like what treatment is administered.

There has been little indication that would be the case in the drafts of legislation made public so far.

When pressed though, Price appeared to mean that by "choice" he meant that individuals could be forced into the government program when the government determines their healthcare isn't up to snuff (see criticism2 above), not that the government would make actual decisions.

Interestingly, Price didn't overemphasize the term "socialist" medicine or that the plan would amount to a bailout, as some Republicans have been doing in recent days. It'll be interesting to see what tag lines emerge in response to the speech later Monday.

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com