GOP lash out at Obama's health bill, unveil own

Congressional Republicans pushed back immediately against the Obama administration’s healthcare promotion on Monday, warning of solid opposition to any plan that includes a government role.

GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), GOP Senate Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) went on the offensive following Obama’s speech in Chicago to the American Medical Association. Kyl and McConnell unveiled a bill to rival the Democratic bill, while Alexander and Pence spoke to reporters.

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Pence, who said he did not watch Obama’s speech, said House Republicans would try to force amendments to the bill and would vote “no” on the bill otherwise because it improperly pits the government against private insurers. He and Alexander both said such a government role would eventually prompt employers to reduce the plans they offer employees.

“I don’t question the president’s motives or his ability, but he’s consistently said he wants the bill to have a government-run option, and we know from experience that a government-run option is likely to lead to a government-run healthcare system,” Alexander said.

“We’ve also watched what’s happened over the last six months: A Washington takeover of banks. A Washington takeover of insurance companies. A Washington takeover of student loans and car companies. So we’re very wary of Washington takeovers right now, and this looks a lot like one.”

The Kyl-McConnell bill would prohibit the government from denying or delaying healthcare based on cost, by banning the use of “comparative effectiveness research.” The GOP leaders called the tactic “a common tool used by socialized healthcare systems to dictate treatment based on cost rather than effectiveness.”
 
“We all agree we need healthcare reform, but Americans want their doctors — not government bureaucrats — to continue to help them make their healthcare decisions,” said McConnell. “Doctors should have as much good information as possible when treating their patients, but the government shouldn’t use this information to deny access to treatment or procedures that patients and doctors choose to pursue.”
 
The economic stimulus bill Obama signed in February provided $1.1 billion for such research, Kyl and McConnell said, “but did not include the necessary safeguards to prevent the research from being used to ration healthcare.”

Pence also said Monday that Republicans plan to oppose the $108 billion military supplemental that the Senate will consider this week because it includes $5 billion for the International Monetary Fund.

“You’re going to see very strong opposition on the House floor,” Pence said. “They are trying to pass a global bailout on the backs of our soldiers. War-funding bills ought to be about war funding.”