Thune kicks off August health battle in GOP address

The August recess battle over healthcare started early Saturday, with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) arguing that Democratic proposals to reform healthcare "fall short" of what's needed.

"Republicans want health care reform that works. Reform that brings down costs for families and small businesses, and reform that provides better care to more people," Thune said in the weekly Republican radio address. "On all these points, the current proposals by the president and the Democrat leadership in Congress fall short."

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The address ostensibly kicks off what is expected to be a pitched battle between Republicans and the Obama administration, as well as congressional Democrats, over the fate of the healthcare bills left before the House and Senate.

The House went into recess Friday without passing preliminary healthcare legislation. The Senate still has a week left in session but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Thursday he does not expect his committee to mark up a bill before the Senate adjourns on August 7th. The Senate Health, Education and Labor (HELP) Committee has marked up its bill and that legislation must be reconciled with the Finance Committee's version before it can move to the Senate floor.

Thune, who is a potential 2012 presidential candidate, argued that the bills under consideration would only worsen healthcare costs for consumers in the long term, while adding to the national debt and reducing quality -- rhetoric which has dominated GOP opposition to the legislation in recent weeks.

Thune touted Republican proposals, such as limiting medical malpractice lawsuits, encouraging preventative medicine, and allowing small businesses to pool toegther to provide insurance, as examples of a "better way" to reform healthcare.

“These and other commonsense solutions would provide real reform for our health care system rather than the dangerous and costly experiment that Democrats are proposing," Thune said. "It’s time for real reform that works, not the same old answers of more money and more government."