KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

GOP Returns Fire On Comp Effectiveness, Health Reform

"GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, Ky., GOP Senate Whip Jon Kyl, Ariz., Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander, Tenn., and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, Ind., went on the offensive following Obama's speech in Chicago to the American Medical Association. Kyl and McConnell unveiled a bill to rival the Democratic bill, while Alexander and Pence spoke to reporters," according to the Hill. "Pence, who said he did not watch Obama's speech, said House Republicans would try to force amendments to the bill and would vote 'no' on the bill otherwise because it improperly pits the government against private insurers. He and Alexander both said such a government role would eventually prompt employers to reduce the plans they offer employees."

The McConnell-Kyl legislation is designed to deflect Democrats' proposals with a bill that would limit government involvement, protect employer-sponsored insurance and ban the use of comparative effectiveness research. "'Americans want their doctors – not government bureaucrats – to continue to help them make their healthcare decisions,' said McConnell." Republican leaders said comparative effectiveness research, head-to-head comparisons of different medical treatments to determine which is most effective, is "a common tool used by socialized healthcare systems to dictate treatment based on cost rather than effectiveness" (Rushing, 6/15).

The reference to "socialized" health systems may be part of a larger strategy. "Republicans are honing an attack line against President Barack Obama in an attempt to play on American's fears of government overreach and economic uncertainties, suggesting he is nationalizing American industry and socializing medicine," the Associated Press reports. "Drawing on the government's ownership stakes in auto giants, insurance companies and banks - and the billions of tax dollars at risk - the GOP is trying to develop wedge issues in the national debate over how to repair the economy and expand health insurance" (Raum, 6/15).

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