GOP Leaders to Meet on Alternative to ObamaCare

By:  Jack Kenny
GOP Leaders to Meet on Alternative to ObamaCare

House Republican leaders have scheduled a meeting Friday to begin work on finding an alternative to the ObamaCare health insurance law that leaders hope can win the minimum 218 votes need to pass in the House, Roll Call reported.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia will meet privately with various committee chairmen and in a group session with Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline of Minnesota, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, Roll Call said.

All, or nearly all, the votes to pass an alternative plan will have to come from Republican members, since Democrats are not likely to support replacing or significantly altering President Obama's signature healthcare law in favor of a Republican alternative. But while individual House Republicans have submitted health care plans, the leadership has yet to endorse any, and no broad coalition has coalesced around any one plan. Should an alternative win passage in the House, it may serve Republicans as something to campaign on this year and try to pass next year if they can hold their majority in the House and win back the Senate. The chance of an alternative winning approval in the Democratic Senate this year is virtually nil.

ObamaCare — formally the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 — has become increasingly unpopular after many Americans lost the health insurance plans that President Obama had said they could keep under the new system. The snafus in the roll out of the ObamaCare website for people to find and enroll in a health care plan created another black eye for the program. But healthcare as it existed pre-ObamaCare is also unpopular with many voters and GOP leaders face the challenge of pasting together a program with more flexibility and less government control, while retaining some of the popular features of the Democratic plan. That approach appears likely to create opposition within the party among staunch conservatives and libertarians, who reject the federal role altogether and favor either leaving health insurance regulation with the states or having a free market in medicine as well as in other transactions.

In the House, Tom Price and Paul Broun, both Georgia Republicans and both doctors, have introduced separate alternative bills, while the Republican Study Committee is pushing a bill sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.).

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