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GOP Still Vague on Details of Health Bill

GOP leaders urged Democrats to start over on their health bill Thursday without saying when they will release a bill of their own.

House Republicans released a four-page outline of their ideas five weeks ago, promising to release details and a bill.

But Republicans have yet to do so. They still haven’t said how much their plan will cost, how they will pay for it or how many people their plan will cover, although they have said it will be cheaper than the $1.6 trillion House Democratic plan and build on a private health insurance system without a government-run insurance option.

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the chairman of the GOP’s Health Care Solutions Group, said Republicans have not been able to offer their alternatives because Democrats have delayed the Energy and Commerce markup on the bill.

“The committees continue to run into all sorts of problems, so we don’t have any committees to offer the bills in,— Blunt said.

But Democrats have slammed Republicans for failing to offer an alternative bill in either the Ways and Means Committee or the Education and Labor Committee, which held markups last week.

Pressed whether Republicans will offer a complete alternative to the Democratic bill, Blunt was vague.

“If the committee meets, we’ll put our ideas on the table if we’re allowed to,— Blunt said. Blunt said Republicans had prepared more than 200 amendments for the markup, and had also offered amendments in the other committees.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) dismissed a question about when Republicans would release their bill as their press conference ended. “Our plan’s been out there for over a month,— Boehner said.

Boehner later declined to say when Republicans would release their bill in a conference call.

“We’re continuing to put the final touches on our bill as the Democrats are continuing to put the finishing touches on their bill,— Boehner said.

On Tuesday, Boehner had blamed delays in releasing the GOP bill on difficulty in getting scoring from the Congressional Budget Office, which scores Democratic bills first. Boehner said then that the bill is “continuing to come together, and we hope to see it soon.—

As for the Democratic bill, Boehner was characteristically harsh Thursday, and complained Democrats had “taken very little of our ideas.—

“We believe it’s time to throw this bill away,— he said.

The Republican outline proposed new tax incentives for individuals and small businesses buying health insurance and would allow states, small businesses and associations to band together to offer cheaper health plans. They also promised liability reform and cutting down on “waste, fraud and abuse— in Medicaid and Medicare.

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