GOP Healthcare Bills

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Contrary to Obama's false accusations that the GOP did not have ideas or bills on healthcare, the GOP introduced a series of their own healthcare bills as alternatives to Obamacare.[1] Because Democrats had a Supermajority, complete control of both the House and Senate so that they did not need any Republican votes to pass healthcare bills, Republican bills were not considered by the Democrats. However, Republicans continued to advocate for their alternatives to Obamacare as late as February 2010, just before Obamacare passed.[2] It should also be pointed out that Obama lied and claimed he had not accused the GOP of not having ideas (which he clearly and repeatedly did).[3]

Specific GOP Legislation[edit]

Patients Choice Act[edit]

On May 20th, 2009 Reps. Paul Ryan and Devin Nunes with Sens. Tom Coburn and Richard Burr introduced H.R. 2520, a 248-page bill entitled the Patients Choice Act, giving the GOP an alternative to the Democrat healthcare proposals.[4] The Ryan plan sought to operate through the private insurance market through use of tax credits, guaranteed insurance access for those with pre-existing conditions, required insurers to meet the same standards on healthcare plans as the plans given to members of Congress, provided auto-enrollment by employers and DMVs, included state insurance exchanges, improved preventive care with disease prevention subsidies, and sought to move low-income citizens out of Medicaid and into private insurance by having government subsidize their healthcare costs.[5]

Empowering Patients First Act[edit]

On July 30th, 2009 Reps. Tom Price and Dan Burton introduced H.R. 3400, a 268-page bill known as the Empowering Patients First Act.[6] Price's bill focused on improving the private insurance market and employer coverage, allowing insurers to pool coverage across different states, increased tax incentives for private insurance purchases, provided refundable tax credits for low-income consumers to purchase coverage, addressed coverage of pre-existing conditions through offering states incentives such as federal block grants to create high-risk pools, implemented tort reform via caps on non-economic damages, and proposed a voucher system so Medicaid and SCHIP recipients can purchase private insurance.[7] The Empowering Patients First Act was reintroduced as H.R. 4910 on March 22nd, 2010, as H.R. 4944 on March 25th, 2010, as H.R. 105 on January 5th, 2011, and as H.R. 3000 on September 21st, 2011.[8] It died in committee each time.

Common Sense Health Care Reform Act[edit]

On November 6th, 2009 Reps. Dave Camp and John Boehner introduced a 220-page substitute healthcare bill in the form of an amendment, H.R. 4038, titled the Common Sense Health Care Reform and Affordability Act.[9] The Boehner alternative included pooling of coverage across state lines to provide healthcare at reduced cost, verification of citizenship or immigrant qualification, improved health savings accounts, allowed minors to stay on parent plans until age 24, implemented tort reform by capping rewards on medical liability lawsuits, and added a prohibition on taxpayer-funded abortion in healthcare plans with exceptions for rape and life of the mother.[10] On May 27th, 2010 the bill was reintroduced as H.R. 4038 and on January 24th, 2011 as H.R. 397 as a replacement when repealing Obamacare, but it died in committee both times.[11]

Patient Centered Healthcare Savings Act[edit]

On December 15th, 2011 Rep. Sean Duffy introduced the 212-page Patient Centered Healthcare Savings Act, H.R. 3682, as a replacement for Obamacare.[12] Duffy's bill included tort reform caps on lawsuit damages, expansion of health savings accounts, removal of restrictions on pre-existing conditions, coverage for children to stay on parent healthcare plans until age 23, increased penalties for Medicare fraud, state-run high-risk insurance pools, state incentives to reduce the number of uninsured, and reauthorized Medicaid health opportunity accounts. Duffy's bill, reintroduced in November 2013 as H.R. 3622, died in House committees.[13]

American Health Care Reform Act[edit]

On September 8th, 2013 Republicans introduced a comprehensive 182-page bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, H.R. 3121 the American Health Care Reform Act.[14] The bill revolved around a $7,500 deduction for individuals and $20,000 for families that purchase coverage through state healthcare exchanges, while increasing government funding to high-risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions. Other features include pooling of policies across state lines by insurers and small businesses, caps on medical liability lawsuit awards, and expansion of health savings accounts.[15] Obama threatened to veto the bill if it were passed.[16]

GOP Ideas in Obamacare[edit]

Obama falsely accused Republicans of not having ideas even as he quietly put some of the most popular Republican ideas in Obamacare, taking credit for them. Examples include tort reform grants to states, allowing children to stay on their parents' plans until age 26, automatic employer enrollment in health insurance, and community mental health centers.[17] State exchanges allowing insurers and small businesses to pool coverage across state lines were also originally a Republican idea.[18] However, Democrat leadership refused to compromise on the core of the bill, government taking over the healthcare industry with an abortion agenda so extreme even pro-life Democrats of their own party rallied to stop it. Republicans never opposed healthcare reform, and indeed had previously passed the largest expansion of Medicare in U.S. history, the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act.[19]


History[edit]

A Democrat Embargo on Reporting GOP Legislation[edit]

Byron York of the Washington Examiner reported in September that media bias was preventing coverage of Republican healthcare bills, and that a search of the Lexis-Nexis database of media reports found 3,000 mentions of the major House Democrat bill, H.R. 3200 over the past 6 months, but GOP bills were mentioned far fewer times. H.R. 3400, introduced by Tom Price, got only 60 mentions. Paul Ryan's bill, H.R. 2520, had been mentioned just 12 times. And H.R. 3217 and 3218, both by John Shadegg, had only a combined 20 mentions by the media.

Democrat Lies About Including GOP Amendments[edit]

Barack Obama claimed at the time that the healthcare bill creation process was bipartisan, and that Democrats had included 160 Republican amendments in the bill.[21] However, PolitiFact debunked this claim as “Mostly False.”[22] In essence, Republicans proposed hundreds of amendments to Obamacare after Obama accused them of not having ideas, but Democrats took only the minor ones that did not substantially alter the core of the bill, including the abortion agenda generating such opposition, so that they could then make a pretense of bipartisanship without ever working with Republicans or including Republicans in the bill creation process. The bill creation itself was made behind closed doors solely by Democrats without Republican input.

Democrats Cut Off Communication with GOP[edit]

In October 2009, Eric Cantor said Obama had cut off all communication with Republican leaders, and John Boehner confirmed GOP leaders hadn’t been invited to the White House since late April.[24] As of November, the Obama administration was continuing to outright ignore Republicans.[23] Democratic leadership pointedly ignored Republicans for nearly a year while the health care bill was being created and even famously changed the locks on committee room doors in October 2009 to keep Republicans from holding a vote on the corruption of Democrats Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad.[25]

The election of Senator Scott Brown in the January 19th election meant that Democrats would soon lose their seven-month supermajority which had allowed them to pass bills without any Republican votes.[26] Brown was officially sworn into office on February 4th, ending the Democrat supermajority. As observed by CNN at the time, “Democrats huddled to try to figure out a way to get their health care bill passed before Brown is seated and ends their 60-seat filibuster-proof ‘supermajority’ in the Senate.”[27] Republican Senator Lamar Alexander optimistically speculated “Now that we have 41 votes maybe the administration will decide it wants to sit down and work with us in the middle rather than trying to say 'We won the election, we'll write the bill.'"[28]

Now that Republicans finally had the ability to filibuster legislation again, Obama met with a frustrated GOP caucus on January 29th, 2010 for the first time.[30] Mike Pence accused Obama of smearing Republicans, declaring that “Republicans are going to continue to stand on the principles that we were elected to advance. We're going to remind him that despite the 'party of no' smear of the last year; we've offered substantive alternatives on every single major issue facing the economy, facing the country.”[31] Obama's pretense at bipartisanship was met with skeptical criticism from Republicans, particularly Jason Chaffetz.[32]

At every stage, Democrats refused to remove their controversial abortion agenda, to compromise with Republicans, designed the bill in back rooms contrary to Obama's campaign promises, and ultimately passed Obamacare without a single Republican vote.

Sources[edit]

  1. Conover, C. (2013, August 28). Seriously? The Republicans Have No Health Plan? Forbes. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/08/28/seriously-the-republicans-have-no-health-plan>
    Starr, P. (2009, August 21). Republicans Have Offered Three Alternative Health Care Reform Bills. Cybercast News Service. <http://cnsnews.com/news/article/republicans-have-offered-three-alternative-health-care-reform-bills>
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  5. Condon, S. (2009, May 20). GOP Health Care Plan Aims for Universal Health Care in the Private Market. CBS News. <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/gop-health-care-plan-aims-for-universal-health-care-in-the-private-market>
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