WASHINGTON -- With Democrats in control of Congress, much of the debate over the sweeping health care reform pushed by President Obama has focused on what proposals could win enough support within the party to pass, but the GOP isn't ceding the war of ideas.
House Minority Leader John Boehner rallied Republicans on Saturday and called on Americans to pay attention to the health care proposals being raised by the GOP, as the Democrats "recklessly pursue" what Boehner called a government takeover of the health care system.
Boehner outlined his party's alternative in the GOP's weekly radio and Internet address Saturday as Democratic proposals gain momentum in Congress and Republicans scramble for support to try to block them.
The Ohio Republican said there is a choice to be made: "We can come together to implement smart, fiscally responsible reforms to improve Americans' health care or we can recklessly pursue this government takeover that creates far more problems than it solves."
Boehner said a number of steps could be taken, such as letting people buy health insurance across state lines, allowing people and organizations to pool together to buy insurance for lower prices and reining in malpractice lawsuits.
Taking aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plan, Boehner said it would put Washington in charge of health care decisions, add to the bureaucracy, raise premiums and cut Medicare benefits.
"Enough is enough. Breaking the bank and taking away the freedoms Americans cherish is not the answer to the challenges we face," Boehner said.
House Democrats praised the health care bill as they unveiled it Thursday.
"The Affordable Health Care Act will ensure, again, affordability for the middle class, security for our seniors and responsibility to our children," Pelosi said, adding that the legislation puts a major emphasis on preventive care.
Pelosi needs 218 votes in a chamber that has 256 Democrats, but several liberal and moderate Democrats are already expressing a great deal of concern.
Liberals, including Rep. Lynn Woosley of California, want a stronger government-run health insurance plan with Uncle Sam picking up more of the tab, and they went to the White House Thursday night to voice their concerns about the bill to President Obama.
But fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats are concerned that the bill is going to bust the federal budget, and they have sent a letter to the Congressional Budget Office asking for more details on how it all adds up over 10 years and beyond.
House Republicans are staying united against the bill.
Debate could begin this coming week on legislation developed by House Democrats that extends coverage to 96 percent of Americans, imposes new requirements on individuals and employers to get insurance and provides subsidies for lower-income people. The bill rolled out Thursday includes a new public insurance plan that would pay providers and hospitals at rates negotiated by the health and human services secretary.
The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to begin debate within two weeks on a bill crafted by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.