Republicans’ Health Care Agenda Faces Several Challenges
Responding to the "escalating crisis in health care," Republicans, who will assume control of Congress next year, are drafting a health care agenda that would "drastically reshape" how health care services are delivered, Gannett News/Detroit News reports (Frandsen, Gannett News/Detroit News, 12/16). President Bush, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who may assume the position of Senate majority leader, said that health care issues such as a Medicare prescription drug benefit, tax credits for the uninsured and limits on damages awarded in medical malpractice cases will have a "high priority" in the next Congress (California Healthline, 11/11). However, in enacting their agenda, Republicans will face several challenges that could force party leaders to scale back their goals and "soften" their approach. For example, the federal budget is running a deficit as demands for new spending are increasing. Republicans also will have to overcome the party's "internal division" over the best ways to resolve some health care problems. While the White House and Senate Republicans tend to agree on policy, the House often passes more partisan legislation because the chamber is easier for the GOP majority there to control, Gannett News/Detroit News reports. "We can't have the House passing irresponsible pieces of legislation just because they have the majority," incoming Senate Finance Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said. "It helps very much if the White House keeps them focused on what the possibilities are in the Senate, where we need bipartisanship," he added (Gannett News/Detroit News, 12/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.