Cantor pressed on lack of GOP healthcare plan

During a bipartisan forum hosted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Cantor and Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) answered constituents’ questions on healthcare. More than 200 people attended the event.

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Richmond resident Ben Ragsdale demanded to know how Republicans were going to expand access to healthcare if they have only a four-page list of bullet-points as their plan.

“What is your substantive proposal to meet these real everyday problems that people have? Where’s the beef?” Ragsdale asked, triggering applause from the crowd.

The telegenic GOP lawmaker said Republicans and Democrats should work together on areas were they agree, but could not show the crowd a detailed plan that has been endorsed by House Republicans.

Cantor earlier this year said House Republican leaders would release an alternative healthcare plan, but have not done so yet. House Republicans have introduced several different health bills, as opposed to one concrete alternative.

Marlise Skinner, a registered nurse who has dealt with medical insurance issues for years, also pressed Cantor.

Skinner told him that “the public option seems to be the best that’s out there so far … what is the alternative out there that would truly control costs, because I’m hearing a lot of spin but I’m not hearing what you would do to control it?”

The audience at Monday’s event appeared divided evenly between supporters and critics of President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan.

While Scott contended that a government-run healthcare system would be the driving force to make medical costs more competitive, Cantor countered that government doesn’t compete fairly.

After Cantor argued that dropping the restrictions for buying out-of-state health insurance would reduce prices, Scott responded that crossing state lines to purchase healthcare plans would have to be regulated.

Cantor was impressed by the forum hosted by his hometown newspaper.

“I thought it was helpful, thoughtful — to have a model like this where you have an independent moderator, rules of the game set out very clearly … I hope that I can go up to Washington and say this should be a model for everybody,” Cantor told a group of reporters.

Cantor and Scott, who represent districts that border one another around the Richmond area, agreed to participate in the event several weeks ago. Unlike many town hall meetings across the country last month, there were no outbursts from the crowd.

This article was amended on Sept. 22 at 1:35 p.m.