Monday, October 22, 2007

Next Step in the Health Care Battle? Retreat!

Health Care and its Reform were the major subjects of a retreat for Republican governors and their staff Sunday in eastern Georgia.

The Republican Party has consistently been seen in the media as lacking innovation or imagination when it comes to health care reform. As reported here in a prior post, Karl Rove has publicly urged the G.O.P. to become bold on this subject, so it should come as no surprise that he was one of the featured speakers, along with former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and former Governor of Georgia, Zell Miller.

Shannon McCaffrey, a writer for the Savannah Morning News, shares some of the details:

On the agenda were GOP initiatives to drive down health care costs through plans like health savings accounts, the portability of health care records and other free-market proposals designed to boost competition.

The specter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton loomed large over the policy sessions as some members of the GOP fretted about the possibility of "Hillary care" if the U.S. senator from New York wins the White House in 2009. Clinton became known for her failed health care plan during her husband's administration and her campaign has put forward a plan to provide universal coverage.

"When Americans have no ideas and Democrats have bad ideas Americans will choose bad ideas because Americans will almost always choose something rather than nothing," said Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster.

McInturff allowed that health care is not an issue that "gets the blood pumping" in the Republican base.

The gathering was also used to "create a new face for the G.O.P." We now jump from Savannah to Ms. MacCaffrey's other article for the Associated Press:

The group's executive director, Nick Ayers, said that in the last election cycle Republicans were, by and large, focused on attacking their opponents rather than putting forth real ideas. The result was that the party lost control of Congress, he said.

"This is the beginning of the R[epublican] G[overnors] A[ssociation] pushing a theme that really good policy equals good politics," Ayers said.

Ayers said health care is probably the Republicans' weakest issue but added that innovation in the states is arising under the leadership of GOP governors.

It all points to a significant disconnect between Republicans in Washington and in the states, Ayers said.

"Republican governors are popular, but most people are basing their assumptions about the party on what's going in Washington," he said.

Dozens of association contributors from the health care and pharmaceutical industry showed up for a dinner Sunday night, where they mingled with top state officials over a fried chicken.

Rep. Bobby Jindal, who was elected Saturday as Louisiana's governor, will become the 23rd member of the Republican Governors Association. Staff from 17 states attended the retreat.

Stay tuned for more developments.

SOURCE: "GOP Talks Health Care at Georgia Conference" 10/22/07
SOURCE: "GOP Govs Discuss Health Care on Retreat" 10/22/07
photo courtesy of WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot on Flickr remixed and used under this Creative Commons license

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