Republican lawmakers have beaten Democrats to the punch on health care reform this year with a plan they intend to unveil Wednesday and have shown exclusively to FOX News.
But Democrats, who still are working on their legislation and have not yet released details on their health care reform plan, may have the last laugh because of their majorities in the House and Senate.
The prospect of an uphill battle hasn't stopped Republicans from drawing up a plan called the "Patients' Choice Act," which avoids a public health insurance system.
"What we are showing with this bill is that you can have universal access to health insurance without the government running it," said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "And what we are saying is that the nearly $5 trillion dollars our government's already projected to spend on health care, let's spend it more effectively, more efficiently."
The GOP plan comes as Obama is making headway into securing cooperation from all the players needed for health care reform. Last week, he announced a pledge from those most opposed to past attempts at health care overhaul to reduce the annual rate of growth in such spending by 1.5 percentage points, for a promised savings of $2 trillion in the next decade.
But the estimated federal costs still range from $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion, over 10 years and so far Obama has only spelled out how to get about half of that.
Republicans say their plan is budget neutral. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said the choice is clear, warning of the consequences of government-run health care.
"That means, ultimately everybody will be insured under the government insurance problem and ultimately the cost will be controlled by rationing health care," he said. "And minimal choice, minimal liberty for you, because you are now dependent on another federal government program that has the compassion that we saw not displayed in Katrina, has the efficiency we see not displayed at the post office and has the brokenness of the IRS applied every day.
"So I think you need to be careful what you ask for."
Among the other things the GOP bill calls for:
- Creation of marketplaces to offer insurance choice. Make more private insurance options available to everyone without creating a public insurance system.
- $2,290 tax credit per individual; $5,710 per family.
- Investment in chronic disease prevention for diabetes, cancer, etc.
- Medicare, Medicaid reform; will attempt to get people off people off of Medicaid and into private insurers
- Creation of independent health courts to resolve malpractice disputes outside the current system.
FOX News' Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.