Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, the head of the Republican Study Committee in the House, tells NRO that he appreciates the plethora of ideas for health-care reform being forward by various Republican leaders, from Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana to RNC chairman Michael Steele, but that ultimately, having so many GOP alternatives is a “bit of a distraction,” and that a “focused effort would be more helpful.”
“It’s not harmful in the long run for the American people to know that multiple positive ideas are being put out to counter the president’s plan,” says Price. Still, he says that when he talks to voters concerned with Obamacare, they repeatedly ask, ‘Why aren’t the Republicans embracing a single plan?’ Such conversations, says Price, raise “concerns” about how the public is interpreting the GOP’s message.
Price adds that the various ideas he’s heard from leaders outside of Congress are valuable, but that the party needs an effective legislative rebuttal to Obamacare, citing his own plan, H.R. 3400, the Empowering Patients First Act, as an example. “I want people to know what we’ll do if we have the privilege to lead after taking back the majority next year,” says Price. “We need to outline things in a concrete way and offer positive solutions. That’s what we’ve been trying to do in the Republican Study Committee, which I think of as an ‘idea factory.’”
Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reports, President Obama gathered 150 doctors at the White House today for an Obamacare “pep rally” where the president “said little new about his signature domestic policy initiative, but he used the choreographed event to put some momentum behind reform proposals taking shape in Congress.”
“One should note that the doctors at the White House today were hand-picked and not a diverse cross-section of practicing physicians,” says Price, a former orthopedic surgeon. “I appreciate and recognize the president involving physicians, but he should have used today for more than a photo opportunity. The president must believe that his presence on the stage assists his efforts, and that he is the one that can best communicate his plan. On this issue, I happen to believe that whenever he talks and mischaracterizes those of us who believe in patient-centered health-care, he only harms his case and erodes his credibility.”