House Republicans may have been able to pass a repeal of President Obama’s national health care law with a unanimous vote on a two-page bill, but the task ahead of them -- replacing the controversial program – will not be so simple.
In broad terms, GOP leaders agree on the goals. Lawmakers told FOX News that their broad goals include: cut waste, fraud and abuse; expand insurance coverage; reduce premiums; allow people to keep the coverage they have and block federal funding of abortion.
House Democrats scoff at the Republican effort, which is now underway on the committee level, as an empty promise.
“This vague resolution stating so-called Republican principles on health care reform is like giving the American people a wish sandwich,” said Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz of Florida. “There’s nothing between the bread, but we wish there was.”
House Republicans have been pushing some health changes all along. Republicans point to proposals such as medical malpractice lawsuit limits and expanding medical savings accounts, efforts that were blocked by Democrats in the majority for the past five years. Several specific packages are now being re-introduced.
One being supported by Republican Congressman Paul Broun from Georgia, who is also a family physician, would let people buy insurance across state lines; let individuals and businesses create insurance associations to reduce costs; create high-risk pools to cover those with pre-existing conditions and make all health care costs 100 percent tax deductible.
“It will be a patient-centered system,” Broun told FOX News. “Patients will own their own insurance policy so it solves the portability problem… It would give patients an option of finding low cost health insurance that they control.”
But to start implementing a replacement for Obama’s law, Republicans first have to push their repeal measure through the Senate.
The White House is simultaneously warning of the negative consequences of the GOP repeal and replace effort, while also dismissing it as futile.
“Out of pocket costs are going to go up if something like this were to become law, but I think thankfully it’s not going to,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
The heat now falls on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has promised he will not let the GOP’s repeal effort come up for debate on the Senate floor.
Conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina plans to offer just such a bill in the next two weeks and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., widely respected for his knowledge of arcane parliamentary maneuvers, is making a bold prediction.
“The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want a vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will,” said McConnell in a Web video congratulating the House on passing the repeal bill.