Obama explores Republican ideas for revised health care bill

President Obama says he is exploring four Republican proposals to add to his updated health care plan, according to a letter he sent today to congressional leaders.

The GOP ideas — discussed at last week’s bipartisan health care summit — include expanding the use of fraud investigators disguised as patients to uncover waste and abuse in federal programs such as Medicaid, a proposal made by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Obama also says he’s open to bigger pilot programs on possible changes to the rules governing medical malpractice lawsuits, a longtime GOP issue.

Obama also wrote that he is open to the idea of higher Medicaid reimbursements for doctors, as proposed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. And the president pledged to look at expanded use of health savings accounts, as discussed last week by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. Barrasso and Coburn were among the medical doctor-lawmakers who participated in the summit.

These ideas will be added to the $950 billion plan that Obama proposed last week. Obama will discuss an updated plan Wednesday at the White House.

“After decades of trying, we’re closer than we’ve ever been to making health insurance reform a reality,” Obama wrote in his letter. “I look forward to working with you to complete what would be a truly historic achievement.”

The president said he would not include other Republican proposals, include their suggestion that health care legislation be approached in a step-by-step fashion.

“I also believe that piecemeal reform is not the best way to effectively reduce premiums, end the exclusion of people with pre-existing conditions or offer Americans the security of knowing that they will never lose coverage, even if they lose or change jobs,” he wrote.

Obama noted that his plan deletes proposals that Republicans have attacked in recent weeks. They include exempting the state of Nebraska from Medicaid costs, and maintaining Medicare Advantage benefits from residents of Florida


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