Republicans need to be ready with a positive alternative following the inevitable "collapse" of Obamacare, GOP Rep. Tom Price tells Newsmax.
And support is growing for healthcare legislation that empowers consumers, the five-term congressman from Georgia adds.
"The Affordable Care Act is going to collapse soon and real people are going to be hurt," Price, a past chairman of the House Study Committee and himself a physician, said. "So we have to be ready with a positive solution. We have one in the Empowering Patients First Act."
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Following up on an in-depth article he wrote for National Review earlier this month, Price spelled out the details of the legislation in meetings of conservatives on Capitol Hill last week.
Price said that a new analysis by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, concluded the act will produce $2.34 trillion in savings over a ten-year period and will reduce premium increases compared to Obamacare.
Emphasizing that the measure, formally H.R. 2300, is not the official Republican alternative to Obamacare, Price nonetheless pointed out that the legislation has so far been co-sponsored by more than 50 of his fellow House Republicans.
Price said the measure contains several of the concepts that Republicans tried to make to Obamacare during the debate leading up to its passage on a party line vote in 2010.
For example, Empowering Patients permits the purchase of insurance across state lines — a practice that is currently illegal and which Democrats successfully kept out of the Affordable Care Act.
As Price noted, "when companies compete across state lines, consumers have more choices for coverage and competition will drive down costs."
Tort reform was another Republican-crafted concept that was repeatedly struck down during the committee process before House members voted on Obamacare three years ago. Price and other physicians in Congress warned at the time that the growth of a litigious society has resulted in one-in-14 physicians facing at least one malpractice suit a year.
Lawsuit abuse reforms are included in H.R. 2300 and, as Price said, "the need for defensive medicine, which squanders hundreds of billions of dollars every year and is passed on to the patients, is reduced. That means lower medical bills."
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The Republican measure permits individuals to keep their health insurance policy regardless of whether they move or change their jobs.
While Obamacare increases the number of Americans in government programs such as Medicaid, Empowering Patients in sharp contrast extends deductibility and different forms of tax credits to make private-sector plans more affordable.
"So, under this plan, Americans will have the financial wherewithal to purchase the kind of coverage they need, not what the government forces them to buy," Price said.
Price also referred to the case before the Supreme Court launched by the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby, challenging Obamacare's requirement that private healthcare plans provide contraceptives for employees, even if it is contrary to their religious beliefs.
Under the Empowering Patients Act, "religious liberty is protected and conscientious objection is safeguarded," said Price.
Support for H.R. 2300 is growing among House Republicans, Price told Newsmax. However, he added, "many Democratic colleagues have expressed strong support for different parts of the bill, but no Democratic House member has yet signed on as a co-sponsor. We hope this will change in the weeks ahead."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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