GOP health bill due in fall

After sending mixed signals in recent weeks, House Republican leaders are now planning to release their healthcare reform bill this fall.

Leadership aides said Thursday that they will have legislative text of a comprehensive measure when the Democrats present the final package to be considered on the floor.

Democrats strongly criticized Republicans earlier this month after Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) suggested the House GOP would not introduce its bill. They noted that just a month earlier, Blunt had guaranteed that House Republicans would produce legislative text.

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Republicans say they have been waiting for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to “score” their provisions before introducing a final bill.

Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.), a former physician and key player in the healthcare debate for the GOP, said that the Republican provisions have been getting bumped to the back of the line due to the number of Democratic provisions submitted for scoring.

“We’re getting the key provisions scored right now. It’s not fully in legislative form, but what we’re doing is getting the key provisions scored right now in preparation of putting it in legislation,” said Boustany, who is a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

Sources at the CBO dispute the suggestion that Democratic requests have pushed the GOP requests to the back of the queue, however. Staff works equally for the Republicans and the Democrats, the sources said.

They explain that committee chairmen and ranking members have priority over rank-and-file members.

House Republicans of the centrist Tuesday Group, conservative-leaning Republican Study Committee and other individuals have already released their own healthcare proposals.

But the GOP leadership intends to use the month of August to assemble text for a bill that, according to one member of the House Republicans’ Healthcare Solutions Group, was supposed to come out last week.

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“The bottom line is that we are going to go back and utilize this time, and we are going to come back after hearing from people and come together,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said on Thursday.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) on Thursday attacked GOP leaders for not putting forward their proposal yet.

“They promised a bill, but what they are offering is snake oil right now. They have 100 criticisms but they have not put forward an alternative Republican bill. What are they hiding? What are they scared of here?

“The answer is that when it boils down to it, their proposal is the status quo,” Van Hollen told The Hill.