Boehner says GOP health alternative is coming

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Thursday afternoon that Republicans will have an alternative healthcare reform bill to offer but did not say when it would be ready.

He told reporters that Republicans will “make decisions at the appropriate time for how we’ll proceed,” but that they are “putting the final touches on [their] bill, just as Democrats” are doing.

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The leader made the statement on a conference call Thursday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, House GOP leaders were peppered with questions after The Hill reported that Boehner’s healthcare point man, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), said his party may not even need to put forward a plan.

Blunt, who is running for Senate, heads the House GOP Health Care Solutions Group. That body met weekly for months to produce an alternative healthcare reform plan acceptable to members of the GOP conference.

Democratic campaign arms on both sides of Capitol Hill were quick to fire off reactions calling out Blunt, who 36 days ago said that House Republicans would have a bill ready.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) sent out an e-mail inducting the Missouri Republican into its "hall of shame."

“After saying Medicare and Medicaid were mistakes, now Roy Blunt is admitting he will not offer any healthcare solutions,” said DSCC communications director Eric Schultz. “Given Roy Blunt's 14 years as a Washington insider, his do-nothing approach is the reason we face a healthcare crisis today, but it is also the reason Roy Blunt does not deserve to serve in the United States Senate.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) whipped up a statement titled: "How Quickly They Forget: Republicans on the Need to Offer a Counter Proposal,” in which it cited several instances in which GOP leaders promised to put forward healthcare reform proposals.

In mid-June, House Republicans unveiled a three-and-a-half page plan that Blunt said would be followed up with a comprehensive alternative bill the leadership would offer.

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Under their plan, there would be no public government-run option and individuals would be encouraged to take advantage of “incentives” that would make coverage more affordable. Also, they want to make sure that the millions of people who currently qualify for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) take advantage of those options.

Thus far, Republicans have offered piecemeal amendments to the Democratic plans in the committees of jurisdiction but have yet to present cohesive legislation that would detail how much their reform plan would cost.

Republicans have made much of the high price tag that the Democratic-sponsored plan is projected to cost based on scoring by the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Without legislative text, however, the CBO can’t score a Republican alternative.

“We can’t have CBO score our bill until it is complete because of the interactive nature of many of the provisions in our bill,” Boehner said, noting that though they are involved in the process, Republicans “don’t know when [the healthcare reform bill] is going to come up and we don’t know under what conditions it will be considered.”