Senate Republicans Prep for Debate on Healthcare Reform

GOP plans push-back against the Democrats' ideas.

By + More

Signaling that Senate Republicans won't cede healthcare reform efforts to Democrats, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell today named four prominent GOP senators to spearhead efforts to overhaul the healthcare system: Sens. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, and Orrin Hatch of Utah. Enzi is the top Republican senator on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; Grassley is ranking member of the Finance Committee; and Gregg holds that distinction on the Budget Committee.

At the announcement, each of the four senators had statements highlighting the GOP's direction and priorities. Enzi said the GOP wants legislation that is "fully paid for, does not expand government bureaucracies like Medicaid, and ensures that we get better value for every dollar we spend on healthcare." Grassley, noting that healthcare costs account for 16 percent of the nation's economy, said: "The public deserves a rigorous effort by Congress to drive down healthcare costs and improve quality." Gregg touted comprehensive reform "that ensures the long-term fiscal solvency of our nation." Hatch cited a need for "controlling costs" and "building on private-sector choices" to ensure high-quality, affordable healthcare.

McConnell said the four lawmakers have begun discussions and will lead regular meetings of the Republican Conference "as part of Republican efforts to enact healthcare reform." McConnell's spokesman, Don Stewart, said that there were good ideas on both sides of the aisle and that Republicans preferred a bipartisan approach. "Anything that has a measure of controversy requires a bipartisan approach in Senate," Stewart added.