Republicans Largely Unmoved by President’s Speech on Health Reform
Republicans responded to President Obama's health reform address to Congress on Wednesday with many of the same criticisms they have made over the past few months: that current Democratic reform proposals are too broad and that reform efforts should either slow down or start over entirely, the Washington Times reports (Haberkorn, Washington Times, 9/10).
In the official GOP response to Obama's speech, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) said that the president defended reform efforts that are too large, unfocused and filled with potential dangers and that the address likely would not change many minds. He said, "Most Americans wanted to hear the president tell" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) "and the rest of Congress that it's time to start over on a common-sense, bipartisan plan focused on lowering the cost of health care while improving quality" (Weisman, "Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 9/10).
Rep. Chris Chocola (R-Ind.) said that no matter how many times Obama "repackages" Democratic reform proposals, "the American people aren't buying what the president is selling."
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said he sat at the address "wondering what the purpose of this event was," adding, "I was hoping to hear the president flesh out a middle ground, but instead we heard platitudes and campaign rhetoric" (Taylor, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/10).
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said, "All the soaring rhetoric in the world can't improve the bill" (Washington Times, 9/10).
GOP Reform Goals
No Republicans have supported any of the four reform bills presented so far in Congress, and the party has been accused of being more interested in sinking the Democrats' political agenda than overhauling health care (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/10).
However, members of the GOP have argued that Democrats in Congress and the White House largely have ignored Republican reform proposals. Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced three bills to reform health care by issuing tax credits to buy private insurance, reforming Medicaid and expanding preventive measures.
Before the address, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, "We don't think a comprehensive approach [to reform] is the way to go," adding, "I personally think a better way to go at it is to do some of these bills individually, and target the problems" (Washington Times, 9/10).
Despite their opposition to many of the Democratic proposals defended by Obama in the address, some Republicans said that they were pleased to hear Obama's pledge to limit medical malpractice lawsuits, which some say force physicians to practice defensive medicine and order unnecessary tests.Medical malpractice often is cited by Republicans as a crucial point in their ideal reform plan (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/10). 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.