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Ranking Members Ask Chairmen for Health Reform Hearings

Correction Appended

Ranking members of the House Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means committees are calling on their respective chairmen to hold hearings on the Democratic health care reform bill shaping up behind closed doors.

In a letter sent Tuesday, Reps. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.), Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.) called on their panels’ chairmen to hold hearings to fully vet the health care proposals.

“To date you have chosen to exclude Republicans in drafting health care reform legislation,— the letter states.

This is evidenced by media reports that Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has confirmed that the three chairmen are “working on the same conceptual framework,— the letter continues. In addition, Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) has said a bill could be introduced in the House as early as next week.

The GOP lawmakers call on the three chairmen to examine three issues in upcoming hearings: whether the developing health plan will “force millions of Americans to lose their current health care coverage,— whether it will limit patients’ ability to receive treatments and whether mandates will increase the cost of health care for workers.

“We are mindful that the Speaker has pledged to the president that the House will vote on a bill before the August recess. While this artificial timeline certainly requires we work quickly, it cannot undermine our responsibility to produce the best possible legislation on behalf of the American people,— the letter concludes.

Democratic aides countered that hearings on the health care bill have beenpart of the plan all along.

“Our committee will hold hearings on health care reform legislation once ithas been introduced. Chairmen Miller and Andrews have also offered to briefour committee’s Republican members on the outline for health care reform weunveiled earlier today,— said Rachel Racusen, a spokesman for Education andLabor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.).

Correction: June 9, 2009

The article misstated that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said a bill could be on the floor by next week. Rangel said a bill could be introduced in the House by next week.

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