Some of the sparks in President Obama’s health care summit in Washington Thursday were provided by Rep. John Kline, the only Minnesota lawmaker in the room.
He spoke up twice to argue for a GOP alternative to new insurance marketplaces, of “exchanges,” that would be set up under Obama’s plan for people without employer-based coverage.
Kline argued instead for a Republican plan to allow small businesses and other groups to join together to buy more affordable group insurance through “association health plans.”
“We think it’s a far better way to get these economies of scale than the exchange thing that’s in this huge bill,” Kline said.
He dismissed Democratic criticism that the GOP-favored plans would escape state laws and oversight, calling that a “red herring.” He called for plans that would be regulated in the same way as group plans currently offered by large corporations using waivers to do business in different states.
Some Democrats suggested that the idea of association health plans would not be very different from the Democrats’ exchanges, as long as they were subject to minimum federal standards.
In an interview after the summit, Kline noted that the Democrats had twice as much time to present their ideas as the Republicans. Nevertheless, he said, “We made the points we wanted to make.”
Despite the show of bipartisanship, Kline said he left the summit with the impression that Obama was “teeing-up” an effort to push the Democratic health care plan through Congress with no Republican support.
Click here for a complete edited transcript.
Video is below:
(Kevin Diaz will be discussing the summit with Eric Eskola and Cathy Wurzer on Twin Cities Public Television's Almanac Friday night. Show starts at 7)