U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga) took the "Center Seat" today on FOX News' "Special Report with Bret Baier" to talk about his increasingly popular Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) - the Empowering Patients First Act (H.R. 2300).
"The bottom line is that we can solve any health care challenges that we have by putting patients and families and doctors in charge of health care, not Washington D.C.," said the Georgia congressman on the program. "We do that in our bill, H.R. 2300, Empowering Patients First Act, by making certain that folks, everybody in this country, every single American has the financial feasibility to purchase coverage that they want, not that the government forces them to buy. We do that through tax deductions, and credits, refundable credits, and advance- able refundable credits.
"We solve portability problems, you ought to not lose your insurance if you change your job or you lose your job, you ought to be able to own your coverage, regardless of who's paying for it. We solve pre-existing illness by making it so that individuals in that individual and small group market can pull together, get the purchasing power of millions so nobody's health status makes any difference to the cost of their health coverage. We can do all of that, that is cover folks, solve insurance challenges, save hundreds of billions of dollars without putting Washington in charge, or raising your taxes…
"Purchase across state lines, we equalize the tax rate for the purchase of coverage, employers get a tax break for purchasing coverage for their employees, individuals ought to get the same kind of tax break. If you do that, then you make it so that we're focusing on the patient not on government."
Price also explained the tort reform included in the bill, and he assured that the legislation would not deny anybody the ability to sue but it would give the doctor the ability to defend himself.
The lawmaker said that while the legislation does not include a mandate to purchase insurance, it does make it financially "feasible and attractive" to get a coverage.
Price was questioned by the "Special Report" panel why does his bill only have around 50 sponsors. The lawmaker, who practiced medicine for over 20 years, said that health care issues are difficult to understand for those who have not been in the medical field. In addition, he said that Republicans actually have several bills floating around, so it is difficult to choose which one is the best option.
"We haven't been able to coalesce around a single program, a single health care program," Price admitted. "To the leadership's credit, I think they've recognized that and they're now saying, after the first of the year we will bring forth a bill that will be able to unite Republicans around specific health care issues, and I'm looking forward to that."
The lawmaker said he hopes majority of ideas for the Republican alternative to Obamacare will come from H.R. 2300, but he recognized that there are a lot of good ideas out there on the Republican side.
"You can't beat something with nothing," he said, emphasizing the importance of having a contrasting bill to ACA.
While Price said he's always been of that mind set, it appears that it has taken the Republican leadership almost six years, since the debate on Obamacare started, to figure out they "can't beat something with nothing."
President Barack Obama, who clearly views the Affordable Care Act as the signature legislation of his presidency, promised time and time again that as long as he is president, Obamacare will remain the law of the land. So while the debate may start now, only under a new (and most likely Republican) president and sometime in 2017 could any alternative plan actually replace the existing law.
Price represents Georgia's sixth congressional district.