GOP still split on healthcare approach

May 1, 2012 at 10:29 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) -- If the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down any or all of the healthcare law, it's unlikely Republicans will have an alternative ready to consider, observers say.

Several GOP plans are floating in the House, but none has garnered support from the majority of the caucus' members, who are united in wanting to repeal the law but divided about whether some of its more popular aspects are good ideas, Politico reported Monday.

"If the Supreme Court throws out the president's plan, we're going to have to have something on the table," said Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., a physician.

For example, most Republicans back the 2-year-old healthcare law's requirement that insurance companies accept all applicants, but an alternative offered by one of Republican's prominent healthcare experts doesn't include that plank.

"It's a terrible idea," Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee and sponsor of the plan, told Politico.

Price, an orthopedic surgeon, said Democrats enacted the provision so they could require what kinds of insurance Americans must have. He said he'd expand coverage voluntarily.

His plan would provide tax credits to help Americans buy insurance premiums and offer a tax deduction to consumers buying coverage in the individual market. His proposal also would allow groups to pool together to buy health coverage, allow consumers to buy insurance across state lines and impose a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in patient injury suits.

Broun introduced legislation that would allow Americans to deduct health costs, encourage using health savings accounts, convert Medicare to a model subsidizing private coverage, allow interstate sales and encourage use of association health plans.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., told Politico he doubts Republicans can coalesce around one plan.

"While the bill was pending, they didn't really have much of an alternative. They wanted to do something on interstate sales and medical malpractice, but they didn't seem to want to do anything to regulate the insurance companies to prohibit discrimination based on pre-existing medical problems," Waxman said. "They didn't want to come up with any idea to make sure everybody had health insurance. So I'm skeptical that they'll really have a solution."

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