Republican Members of the in the House Ways and Means Committee will have three days to read a health care reform bill that is being penned by Democratic staffers behind closed doors before a vote will be called. The bill will then be shuttled off to the House Rules Committee and sent to the floor for a full House vote.
"It has been a study in frustration watching this legislation being crafted on the House side," said Texan Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D., at a town hall-style meeting with six other Republican lawmakers who were also doctors, held Tuesday by the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. The event was broadcast online and on CSPAN, and questions were taken from both an online and live audience.
Burgess predicted that Republicans on the Senate side will be given a bill in the "middle of the night" and the Senators will "have 45 minutes to vote on it" — an apparent reference to the vote called by House Democrats on the 309 pages of amendments added to the cap-and-trade bill at 3AM the night before the vote.
The lawmakers brought up numerous other objections to the health legislation, which is expected to cost more than the Pentagon's budget and create an unprecedented health care bureaucracy. House Democrats are scrambling to finish writing the bill by a self-imposed deadline of August 3, but have been locked in negotiations with health care lobbying groups.
Rep. Time Murphy (Penn.) complained that a public option will follow in the footsteps of other government-run health care plans, which "will pay diabetic patient's legs to get cut off but will not pay endocrinologist to make a couple of calls a month" for preventative care.
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.) tied Murphy's concerns into the President's recent reference to liability reform. If government guidelines are put in place for treatment, as is expected, doctors could avoid costly malpractice suits by following those guidelines to the letter. But that would put patients at risk.
If these guidelines "are the only defensible actions in court of law" then doctors could be "coerced into giving the wrong kind of care," said Murphy.