By Tony Romm - 10/31/09 10:00 AM EDT
House Democrats' recently unveiled healthcare bill is little more than
"1,990 pages of bureaucracy" that will inevitably "raise the cost of
Americans' health insurance premiums," the House's top Republican
stressed in this week's radio address.
The country's healthcare system would be better served by the GOP's proposed solutions, which permit families to purchase insurance across state lines, empower states to innovate and close holes in medical lawsuit rules, added House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio).
"We first released our healthcare plan in June, and over the last six months, we have introduced at least eight bills that, taken together, would implement this blueprint," he said.
The Republican leader's stated commitment to fighting House Democrats' healthcare reform efforts arrives only days after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) revealed her chamber's new bill. That proposal, weighing in at $1.055 trillion, includes a centrist-friendly public option -- one of many features that Republicans have long excoriated.
Boehner again aired his dissatisfaction with the public plan during his radio address on Saturday, and he charged the entire bill would promote healthcare rationing. He also predicted Democrats' efforts would "kill jobs with tax hikes and new mandates" and "cut seniors’ Medicare benefits."
But truly undergirding the Republican leader's remarks seemed to be his party's re-tooled strategy to defeat the meme that it is without a counter-solution to Democrats' proposed reforms.
Boehner went to great lengths Saturday morning to explain four specific areas that he said Democrats have neglected, to the detriment of their own bill. He stressed the need for rules that permit Americans to purchase insurance across state lines, and he argued for a provision that would "allow individuals, small businesses, and trade associations to pool together and acquire health insurance at lower prices, the same way large corporations and labor unions do today."
Boehner also urged lawmakers to offer states the money and resources so they could innovate healthcare solutions at the local level, and he repeated his call for strong tort reform to end "junk lawsuits."
“These are four smart, fiscally-responsible reforms that we can implement today to lower costs and expand access at a price our nation can afford," Boehner said. "Again, you can learn more about these and all the healthcare initiatives Republicans have supported by visiting healthcare.gop.gov."
It is unclear, however, whether any of Boehner's suggestions will become part of House Democrats' final bill. For one thing, key leaders in the majority party have so far signaled an unwillingness to accept amendments -- a possibility that has enraged House GOP members and disgruntled Democrats alike, both of whom still hope to leave their mark on the legislation.
Nevertheless, Pelosi suggested this week her proposal could be due for a floor vote as early as next Thursday.