Health care issues: What are GOP's reform ideas?

AP News
Posted: Nov 23, 2009 9:21 AM

A look at key issues in the health care debate:

THE ISSUE: Republicans are the minority party in both houses of Congress. What health care proposals have they advanced, and are they going anywhere?

THE POLITICS: The most viable Republican proposal on health care has come from Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, to use the threat of government insurance to force private insurers to lower prices. President Barack Obama and many Democrats saw some political value in including Snowe's "trigger" plan, but ultimately rejected it for one that would permit states to opt out of government insurance.

Other GOP plans have next to no chance of becoming law. House Republicans have released a bill draft that focuses on bringing down costs and limiting malpractice lawsuits. The bill leaves out many provisions of the Democrats' 1,990-page legislation, such as new requirements for employers to insure their employees. It also doesn't block insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions.

Democrats immediately dismissed the Republican plan as insubstantial.

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WHAT IT MEANS: A rewrite of health care policy is the Democrats' signature issue _ a plus for the president's party if it meets their goals of covering nearly every American without adding to the deficit. But if it underwhelms, Republicans will blame the Democrats and ask the voters to turn them out of Congress. The GOP's top targets: Democratic freshmen from districts Republican presidential contender John McCain won in 2008.

_ Laurie Kellman