Republicans in Congress Set To Unveil Alternative Health Care Proposals
Congressional Republicans are releasing two health care reform proposals today -- one from conservatives and one from moderates -- as alternatives to plans by Democrats, CQ Today reports (Wayne, CQ Today, 5/19).
On Wednesday, conservative RepublicansÂ -- led in the Senate by Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Richard Burr (N.C.)Â and in the House by Reps. Devin Nunes (Calif.) and Paul Ryan (Wisc.) --Â will introduce the Patients' Choice Act, which would establish State Health Insurance Exchanges, where U.S. residents could shop for private insurance.
The legislation also would give $5,710 tax credits to families and $2,290 tax credits to individuals to help pay for health insurance (Haberkorn, Washington Times, 5/20). The credits would be funded by taxing employer-provided health benefits (CQ Today, 5/19).
Under the plan, U.S. residents could keep their current coverage if they choose and the plan would not require individuals to have insurance. Coverage also would be portable, allowing people to keep their coverage when switching jobs.
States would provide direct oversight of health insurers and providers to ensure equal benefits (Washington Times, 5/20).
The bill also would create private insurance options through Medicaid and would require higher-income Medicare beneficiaries to pay higher premiums for the Medicare prescription drug benefit (CQ Today, 5/19).
The measure would establish a system of health coverage auto-enrollment at emergency departments, motor vehicle departments and other locations.
According to the AP/Washington Post, the group, unlike some Senate Republicans, does not want to work with congressional Democrats on their plans for health care reform legislation.
Of the proposals being developed by Democrats, Burr said, "I think within two hours of seeing it we'll be able to tell people why it won't work."
Burr and Coburn believe that congressional Democrats only will approve legislation that includes a public option, which is not included in their proposal (Werner, AP/Washington Post, 5/19).
Meanwhile, moderate House Republicans are scheduled to release the Medical Rights Act during a press conference Wednesday.
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) led development of the legislation, which would guarantee that the government would not be able to interfere with medical decisions made by physicians and patients.
According to Kirk, the measure would make changes to the private insurance market and medical lawsuits to help reduce the cost of health coverage.
The bill also would expand the number of public health clinics, increase the use of electronic health records and strengthen state-run high-risk insurance pools, according to Kirk.
The proposal does not include a public option or an individual mandate that U.S. residents obtain health coverage.Although the cost of the plan is unknown, Kirk said it would be "extra low compared to where the president's going" (CQ Today, 5/19). 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.