Republican Representatives Will Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night on Health Care

Those of you who rallied against cap and trade till the bitter end of the House vote: listen up. Rep. Roy Blunt wants to see the same kind of public outcry against the Democrats’ health care agenda.

Reps. Roy Blunt, chairman of the Health Care Solutions Group, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, vice-chair of the House Republican Conference, held a conference call tonight with bloggers. Blunt spoke about the way a government plan will drive away private competition. Conceding that he needs a new metaphor that doesn’t involve the symbol of the Republican party, Blunt likened a so-called public option to an elephant in a room full of mice. The smart mice get out as fast as they can, and the slower mice are completely crushed, he said.

According to Blunt, any plan that would garner Republican support must exclude mandates on both employers and individuals.

Citing math from the Democrats’ lead economists, Blunt highlighted the fact that a government takeover of the health care industry would reduce jobs by 4.7 million. One option that Democrats are considering to help pay for their health care reform is to charge an 8 percent payroll tax on employers who do not provide health care to their employees. Eight percent isn’t a huge number, but Blunt suggested that the burden will be enough to put some folks out of business outright. Other businesses that are able to hang on will have to cut jobs after the fact to neutralize that 8 percent tax burden.

Such financial burdens and the job losses, Blunt said, lead to the kind of rationing and long lines that other countries experience.

One blogger asked if the government has the right to meddle in health care at all. “It’s hard to go back to 1965,” Blunt said. He underscored that the government is already too involved in the operation of the health care industry, so the best it can do now is seek reforms through which the government can help organize the system of choice and competition.

Another blogger asked if the Republicans had considered a plan where health insurance would be completely detached from employers, which I was happy to hear because someone shared with me via Twitter that they wanted me to ask that very question. Blunt responded by saying that the GOP did consider this in developing their alternate reforms, but that far too many people are content with their current coverage and that a very sudden and very complete change like that might incite panic in the American people.

Blunt also spoke about the ways in which the new system would discourage people from studying medicine and would put specialists out of business. McMorris Rodgers addressed her personal frustrations with insurance coverage for her baby son and the wait times that came along with a plan that restricted profits for a particular pediatrician.

Eager for more information? If you’re interested in what Republican medical doctors in Congress think about the health care debate, read Grace Boatright’s post on yesterday’s House Republican doctors’ panel or tune in tomorrow to watch the Senate’s only two doctors’ answer your questions. Drs. Barrasso (R-Wy.) and Coburn (R-Okla.) are launching their “Senate Doctors” live, online show tomorrow and it will continue every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00 pm ET over the next couple weeks. You can submit your own questions to Coburn and Barrasso via e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (hashtag: #srch), among other options.

Cross-posted on CatherineFavazza.com.

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