As polls highlight the American public’s unease about President Obama’s signature health-care law, House Republicans on Wednesday introduced legislation to repeal and replace it completely with a plan of their own.
The bill, called the American Health Care Reform Act, is the product of a health-care working group convened by Representative Steve Scalise (R., La.), chairman of the 175-member Republican Study Committee (RSC).
“I think we’ve done a very effective job of pointing out all the things that are bad about the president’s health-care law, but people want to know what we stand for as well,” Scalise told reporters during a briefing at the National Review office on Capitol Hill. “The public, as they get more angry about the existing law, they are going to want to have something else to put in its place.”
The group, which had been working on the plan for several months, included several members of the Republican Doctors Caucus, including Representatives Phil Roe (Tenn.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.), John Fleming (La.), and Paul Gosar (Ariz.).
“We were all saying we needed to have an alternative and put it on paper, to allow people to compare and contrast,” Gosar tells me. “We have the expertise — those of us in the doctor’s caucus who have actually provided health care. These are real solutions based on years and years in the trenches.”
Democrats have routinely criticized Republicans for attacking Obamacare without proposing a viable replacement. The president repeated this argument on Monday during his address immediately following the deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. “Remember, initially this was like repeal-and-replace, and the replace thing has kind of gone off to the wayside. Now it’s just repeal.”
In fact, Representative Tom Price (R., Ga.), an orthopedic surgeon and former RSC chairman, has proposed a comprehensive replacement bill for three years running. And now, Scalise and company plan to push for a full debate and vote on their legislation. They’ll even seek input from Democrats. “You can’t pass a bill that’s entirely done by one party that affects every person in the country,” Roe said. “We’re open to Democratic ideas and amendments. We can’t just shut out an entire party.”