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GOP fears government health care "alligator"

by Mosheh Oinounou

Joined by a potential 2012 presidential candidate, Republican House leaders Tuesday took aim at the Democratic healthcare proposal they say will eliminate choice, increase costs and destroy the private health insurance industry.

"Most Americans know that the government competes with the private sector the way an alligator competes with a duck. It consumes it," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), House Republican Conference Chairman, standing alongside House Minority Leader John Boehner.

The House GOPers also welcomed Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who made a pit stop in DC today on his way to two-day swing through New Hampshire and Iowa, stoking speculation that he is considering a run for the White House. But, Barbour brushed off a 2012 question and instead focused on healthcare Tuesday.

"We are very concerned about it. I think a lot of governors, Democrats as well as Republicans, know that this is a very difficult, very hard subject that it shouldn't be leaped into. There needs to be a lot of information to the American people, information to state governments. 852 pages it pretty hard to swallow in a very short period of time," Barbour said, referencing the length of the House Democratic bill.

The GOP leaders also expressed skepticism that Democrats will be able to come up with way to pay for health care reform--which some independent estimates state may cost more than $1.5 trillion.

Among the solutions to paying for reform is cutting as much as $500 billion in waste and fraud from the Medicare and Medicaid systems.  Along those lines, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) today announced the creation of "Medi-Fraud Alert," an online forum that he says will highlight policy solutions to improve the federal health programs.

"Waste, fraud and abuse in our current government healthcare programs is shockingly high and places an enormous burden on both the U.S. taxpayer and our healthcare system," Roskam said in a statement. "As we move forward with healthcare reform, it's simply nonsensical that we'd create an exponentially larger government-run healthcare system when our current one is plagued with such waste and fraud...the Medi-Fraud Alert will help inform the public about the severe problems in our current systems and outline ways to move forward in reforming healthcare."