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Parties Engage in Dueling Stunts on Health Care

House Republicans hoping to garner media attention Tuesday with a reading of the 1,990-page House Democratic health care bill had to compete for the spotlight with Democrats staging a stunt of their own designed to show the lack of ideas brought forward by Republicans.With cameras rolling, nearly a dozen Republicans crammed into a conference room in the Longworth House Office Building to launch a “reading room— for Members to plow through and discuss the Democratic bill with the help of GOP policy staff.House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.), sitting at the head of a conference table piled with copies of the Democratic bill, told reporters he hoped the quiet environment would help GOP Members read as much of the bill as possible before it comes to the floor, possibly later this week.“We think facts are our friends and we think once the American people see the facts in the … health care bill, they’ll understand this is a government takeover,— Pence said.Meanwhile, House Democrats held a simultaneous press event to read the entirety of what they argued was a nonexistent GOP proposal. The event featured Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), all of whom were seated at a conference table pretending to read from a “Republican Health Care Bill— binder with blank pages.“It wasn’t a joke. This is their bill. It’s right here,— Wasserman Schultz said afterwards, waving the empty binder.Republicans ultimately released a draft of their proposal later Tuesday afternoon, but Democrats were just as critical of their ideas. Wasserman Schultz, who is also vice chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the GOP bill should be named the “Health Insurance Company Protection Act— since it would allow insurers to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions and drop coverage for people who get sick.“We have said for some time that Republicans are more interested in protecting the health insurance industry than in helping consumers. And the plan Republicans are putting forward is all the proof anyone would need to know we’ve been telling the truth,— Wasserman Schultz said.

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