House Republicans unveiled their 219-page health care overhaul legislation Tuesday night. The GOP asserts it would lower health care premiums for families and small businesses and that it would be a far less costly and intrusive approach to helping the uninsured than the Democratic proposals in the House and Senate. It is not expected to garner enough support to pass.
The bill’s general approach expands state-based high-risk insurance pools for Americans with pre-existing health problems, permits trade associations to organize to purchase group insurance, imposes caps on medical liability lawsuits and allows health insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. Most of these ideas — particularly efforts to reform medical malpractice laws — were left out of the Democratic approaches.
The GOP plan would also explicitly prohibit all federal funds from being used to pay for abortions. Rep. Bart T. Stupak (D-Mich.) is leading an effort by anti-abortion forces to include such a prohibition in the House Democrats’ legislation.
A one page summary of the bill released by House Republican in the late afternoon highlighted these other provisions: allowing dependents to remain on their parents’ policies through age 25; enhancing Health Savings Accounts, and promoting healthier lifestyles by giving employers greater flexibility to financially reward employees who adopt healthier lifestyles; and encouraging innovative state programs that reduce premiums and the number of uninsured.
The party released the bill on the GOP Web site, saying: “The full text of the 219-page, common-sense Republican alternative to Speaker Pelosi’s 1,990-page government takeover of health care is now available.” Over the weekend, House Minority Leader John Boehner called the Democratic bill “unaffordable.”
The Republican plan, which will be offered as an amendment to the Democratic bill when it is brought to the floor, also would authorize subsidies to states that reduce the annual per person premium for health insurance coverage or develop new programs that cover more of their residents over a 10-year period. The bill leaves out a number of important provisions of the Democrats’ 1,990-page bill, including new mandates for many employers to provide insurance for their employees or pay a penalty and for nearly all Americans to purchase insurance.
Below is the Republican legislation: