Republican Alternative to Obamacare Gaining Momentum, Bill's Sponsor Says

By Susan Jones | November 21, 2013 | 8:19am EST

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) (AP File Photo)

( - Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) says increasing access to health care and lowering health care costs are at the heart of his bill that stands as an alternative to Obamacare.

"We drafted this bill with a working group of members of the Republican Study Committee, which I chair," Scalise told Fox News's Neil Cavuto on Wednesday. He said momentum is building for the American Health Care Reform Act, which is being taken "very seriously."

"It's a very concise bill. It's less than 200 pages long. It's not the 2,700-page bill that Obamacare is," Scalise said.

"And also we have over 100 members of Congress now that have co-sponsored it. And we had medical doctors who serve in Congress, like Dr. Phil Roe, help write this bill. This is a bill based on putting patients back in charge of their health care and lowering the cost and getting government out of health care decisions."

As support for Obamacare erodes, some liberals respond that Republicans are all for repeal, but have no health care plan of their own.

Scalise says his plan would get "Washington politicians, IRS agents and all these other people out of those decisions between a doctor and patient. And what we do is just take commonsense reforms and allow people to buy across state lines so that they have more options in lowering the cost of health care, doing things like letting small businesses pool together and even letting families pool together within their own church groups and other organizations.

"So, we do a lot of things that are -- that are really based in lowering the cost of health care and increasing access, so that the patient is back in charge of their health care decisions."

Scalise said by lowering the cost of health insurance, more people, including the uninsured, will buy it, but unlike Obamacare, there is no government dictate that people must buy insurance or else pay a fine.

"Look, we don't have mandates and all these taxes and other unworkable components that Obamacare has. We let -- let people make those decisions. But by lowering the cost, you actually increase access for people. We do address the problem of people with preexisting conditions, because we don't think that's right that somebody can be discriminated against."

When it comes to people with preexisting conditions, Scalise said, "We put our money where our mouth is. We actually put up real money that (we) would get through savings in other areas like malpractice reform, so that doctors don't have to run all these tests that have nothing to do with your health care....So, you get tremendous cost savings in those areas."

He said the Republican plan would rely on the states' existing high-risk pools. "And again we put real money in place so that someone with a preexisting condition can actually buy at market rates."

Scalise summarizes the key points of the American Health Care Reform Act as follows:

-- Fully repeals President Obama's health care law, eliminating billions in taxes and thousands of pages of unworkable regulations and mandates that are driving up health care costs.

-- Spurs competition to lower health care costs by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines and enabling small businesses to pool together and get the same buying power as large corporations.

-- Reforms medical malpractice laws in a commonsense way that limits trial lawyer fees and non-economic damages while maintaining strong protections for patients.

-- Provides tax reform that allows families and individuals to deduct health care costs, just like companies, leveling the playing field and providing all Americans with a standard deduction for health insurance.

-- Expands access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), increasing the amount of pre-tax dollars individuals can deposit into portable savings accounts to be used for health care expenses.

-- Safeguards individuals with pre-existing conditions from being discriminated against in purchasing health insurance by bolstering state-based high risk pools and extending HIPAA guaranteed availability protections.

-- Protects the unborn by ensuring no federal funding of abortions.

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