Tuesday, 03 November 2009

Republican Healthcare Reform Bill Coming

Written by  Steven J. Dubord

House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) announced on November 1 that his party is preparing a healthcare reform bill to compete with the Democratic alternative.

Boehner said the Republican version would cover millions of presently uninsured Americans, but it would not be as ambitious as the House Democratic proposal brought out last week. The Democratic plan is estimated to bring coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans at a 10-year price tag of $1.055 trillion.

“What we do is we try to make the current system work better,” Boehner mentioned on CNN's State of the Nation. The plan is expected to be less expensive and to feature less government meddling with the private sector. According to Boehner, it will take “a step-by-step approach” to expanding coverage.

The Republican bill will offer grants for states that come up with “innovative” ways to expand coverage. As an example, he talked about states that have established “high-risk pools” to help individuals with pre-existing conditions to obtain health insurance.

Other features of the GOP alternative would be new limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and provisions that enable individuals and small businesses to more easily combine their purchasing power for insurance coverage. Boehner stated that the Republican legislation won’t raise taxes, and it won’t have any mandates to force individuals or businesses to purchase insurance.

Republicans have criticized Democratic plans, but they now hope to show that there is a better way. They intend to bring up the their measure during debate on the Democratic bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has indicated that this would be allowed.

Even some diehard liberals are looking for a better alternative to Democrats' proposals. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) on November 1 reiterated his opposition to creating a new government-run public health-insurance plan. He said he wouldn’t try to block debate on the Democratic bill, but he would join the Republicans if they move to block a vote on the bill.

The more opposition there is to a public plan, the better. All a government-run option would have to do to put private insurance out of business is reimburse healthcare providers at Medicare rates. Healthcare providers would then charge private insurance companies higher rates to cover their losses.

When private insurers are hit with these rates, they in turn charge higher premiums to their customers. These customers eventually find they can’t afford private coverage anymore and turn to the public plan. The steady exodus from private coverage would only increase the pressure on those who remain. The public plan is unfairly guaranteed to win in the end.

It remains to be seen if the Republicans can provide a worthy alternative to what the Democrats are offering. While there are likely to be some downsides, almost anything without a public option and without federal mandates would be better than current Democratic proposals.

For a relatively short but informative video full of ideas that would really reform healthcare, watch the following interview of Ron Paul on CNN. As a teaser, those who watch the video all the way to the end may find a new way to reform their relationships with the opposite sex as well.

Photo: AP Images

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