September 9th, 2009
09:43 PM ET
14 years ago

Republican legislator calls for bipartisan health-care plan

WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany urged Congress to pass a health-care plan by "working together in a bipartisan way" in remarks delivered after President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday.

"Republicans are pleased that President Obama came to the Capitol tonight," the Louisiana lawmaker said as he delivered the Republican response.

"We agree much needs to be done to lower the cost of health care for all Americans. On that goal, Republicans are ready - and we've been ready - to work with the President for common-sense reforms that our nation can afford."

"Most Americans wanted to hear the president tell Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and the rest of Congress that it's time to start over on a common-sense, bipartisan plan focused on lowering the cost of health care while improving quality," he said.

Boustany, a cardiothoracic surgeon with more than 20 years of experience, slammed the president for leaving a much-diminished role for a public option on the table.

"The president had a chance tonight to take the government-run health care off the table," he said. "Unfortunately he didn't do it."

Obama's plan includes a public option in a health-care exchange for people whose employers do not provide health-care coverage and who cannot afford to buy it on their own.

The Louisiana congressman - who has said he has "questions" about whether the president was born in the United States - offered four "ideas" that he said were supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

Boustany said all Americans "should have access to health care coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions," that "individuals, small businesses and other groups should be able to join together" for lower costs, that the government "can provide assistance" to those who can't afford insurance and that insurance companies should offer incentives for better living.

The president included the first three of Boustany's ideas in his plan.

Boustany said Republicans were "grateful" that Obama included medical malpractice reform in his remarks, and he said that the president should also consider allowing individuals and families to purchase insurance across state lines.

He referred listeners to a Web site for more information and said the Republican proposals could be achieved "without destroying jobs, rationing care or taking away the freedoms that Americans cherish."

"Working together in a bipartisan way, we can truly lower the cost of health care while improving its quality," he said.

Earlier, Boustany told CNN that Obama's health-care reform bill - which has not actually been written as a bill - has "unanswered questions" and is "unacceptable."

He shrugged aside a statement from the American Medical Association urging Obama and Congress "to reach agreement this year on health system reforms."

"There are a number of problems with this bill and it's unacceptable. Keep in mind that the AMA only represents around 15 percent of physicians and a number of state medical societies have actually taken positions opposite the AMA," Boustany said.

On its Web site, the AMA describes itself as the largest medical association of physicians in the nation.

"Frankly, there really have not been any discussions between the White House and House Republicans, and that's of some concern to me. I'm quite frustrated, to be frank," the congressman said.

The Obama administration has held numerous meetings with Republicans and Democrats on health care issues, although as the action moved to Congress, meetings with White House officials decreased while Congressional meetings

Boustany said he agrees with many elements of the president's health-care
proposal, including his call for a bipartisan approach and medical insurance
"We do believe that we have to provide a system that creates access to a
doctor/patient relationship first and foremost for all Americans," he said.
Serving his third term in office, Boustany represents the state's 7th
Congressional District, covering part of Acadiana in southwestern Louisiana. He
is the only Republican doctor on the House Ways and Means Committee, which, he
notes, has "jurisdiction over tax, trade, health care and entitlement policy."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. Paul from Kissimmee

    Too bad the liberals are too hard headed to listen to the Republicans.

    September 9, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |

    So this is what happens when people with political power don't pay attention. Or is it that when Obama agrees with republicans, they are unable to hear it?

    September 9, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  3. J.B Cantave

    The problem with Health Care is Republicans. From their bickering and manipulation of the facts, I feel that they believe in protecting the status quo, waging wars, creating division among all Americans, rather than protecting the lives of the American people.

    September 9, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  4. yuri

    The stock reply from a stoky surgeon seemed like a saggard. He performed even worse than Bobby Jindal. Compared to Boustany, Bobby appeared silver-toungued.

    September 9, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  5. Vince

    If you can't beat him, . . . join him.

    September 9, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  6. Tom

    So, a wealthy Republican surgeon from the South tells us what kind of health reform we need. Credibility anyone?.

    September 9, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  7. E. Harris

    It amazes me that 2 side agree there is a problem, but can't agree what it is or how to fix it. This process reflects how divisive we are as a nation (old vs young, black/white, Republician/Democrat, gay/straight, rich/poor, North/South, etc). There must be compromise or the destruction of one over another, WHY? Have we not seen enough of continouse disagreement from the Middle East? Yet we as a Nation try to impose a democratic process on the rest of the world and we can't do it. We talk, but don't practice it.
    I think it is time to remove all the old stuff shirts in Washington who act like brats, not children because children can usually find compromise and play together. Most of our politicians are an embarrasement to a civil society.

    September 9, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  8. Ron

    I really think that the Republicans do not like people from Louisiana, why else would they keep putting their political figures in front of a camera after the president and make a rebuttal that clearly did not match up with what the President had said.

    September 9, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  9. Nea

    THE TIME IS NOW! My suggestion to the republicans is to get on board and stop saying they want by-partisan support when you had your chance. WE as Americans are tired of the same fear tastics the same lies and so on. Congress need to focus on the now and dont worry about 2010 and 2012 ,What are you going to do NOW for the America people. I feel if you really try to do whats right for the American people they will judge you on what you tried to achieve and what you did achieved. But if you have a political do nothing agenda then you derserve to be replaced.

    September 9, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  10. Post always rejected by CNN

    I just have to say this bi-partisan health care bill. Where were all these health care bills proposed by the republicans for the previous eight years...heck not one. And Boehner says all they need for a health care reform is to give tax breaks to business so they can supply insurance to their employees. And to stop malpractice lawsuits.

    Darn what a cohesive plan....but he forgot to take in account the 46 million WHO DON'T HAVE HEALTH CARE BECAUSE MOST DON'T HAVE JOB. Whose jobs were sent overseas by bush.

    September 9, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  11. Nabeel

    Why don't you republicans find some one who can talk and not read off of a board. its funny.

    September 9, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  12. BJ

    I wouldn't have this guy as my doctor for any money in the world. First of all, I think medicine and politics don't mix any better than religion and politics – that's why we need health care reform in the first place. And this idiot had three mal practice suits against him – I wonder what kind of reform he would like? And the President addressed all the items in his speech. What is is with the southern white boys that lead the Republican party now – with Boehner sitting like a sorry stone. And Wilson calling the President names during an address to Congress – and the Repubs criticize the President for asking school kids to work hard?/ The racism is so blatant to me I can't believe the media is so quiet about it,. The Republicans just HATE that Obama is a young, vibrant, black man that hasn't paid his dues in Congress to them yet – and dared to be more than the status quo we'lve had for years and years.

    September 9, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  13. vic nashville , Tn

    His speech exactly like Bobby Jindal We want to know what FOX and Rush are saying
    If they praise his speech then some thing wrong

    September 9, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  14. fredrick ruckett

    Mr. boustany stated that thousands of voters in his state voiced concern over health care reform. Representing the state's 7th district in the state of louisiana , a state the per capita has the largest number of uninsured citizens. Who's he been talking to. Her's a poll for you guys, poll only people who did not vote for obama and who don't have healthcare, what do they think.

    September 9, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  15. rapotat

    Oh whatever.

    Most American's were overwhelmingly supportive of President Obama to begin with. This has been much ado about nothing, as usual.

    September 9, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  16. John from California

    Bipartisan my butt cheeks you fool, what happened to Bohner's empty folder that was the republican plan months ago?

    A few final touches he said, and now another insurance company lakey wants to start all over and over and over!

    You republicans don't want change, you like it just the way it is, so stop lying and tell the truth – the republicans and the insurance companies don't want change!

    The insurance companies and the republican party don't care about people suffering and going bankrupt. After all, it was the republican party that wrote the bankruptcy laws that prevents ordinary citizens the same bankruptcy protections that are enjoyed by their industry sponsors.

    September 9, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  17. William Trapnell

    Representative Boustany apparently cannot hear well or chose not to listen to the President's address. He deliberately disrespected the President's statement of "calling out" those who continue to misrepresent the truth about healthcare reform. My cardiologist fully supports the President, thank GOD.

    September 9, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  18. Glenn, Cary, NC

    same old same old

    September 9, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  19. dl

    sad commentary, can repubs come up with anything better than that? oh well no they can't can they, they have not even come up with an alternate bill that could be comprmised guts no glory! they will be in the tank for years & years...

    September 9, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  20. CAW in MD

    Bull dookey. Name me one thing - one - that the GOP is willing to give up opposing in order to get health care reform done. Obama already gave up on single payer, and has clearly stated that accountability is what he wants, not necessarily a public option. Tonight he threw in some tort reform that Republicans want. What has the GOP been willing to compromise on in order to get this reform?

    When the GOP puts something significant on the table that will offend their supporters, then we can start having a bipartisan discussion. Until then, they can say what they want, but the GOP does not "stand ready" to work with this President on this issue.

    September 9, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  21. Justin

    Tort reform, no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, protections against medical bankruptcy, minimizing waste and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid – these are all GOP-supported ideas. And there are many more in Obama's plan.

    Still no one in the GOP will be caught dead supporting it.

    Their idea of bipartisanship is 'we get everything we want.'

    Not gonna happen. Nor should it. The GOP is the minority party for a reason. Until they show that they can responsibly govern again, they'll continue to be shooting themselves in the foot politically while the rest of us get progress.

    September 9, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  22. jts

    At best he's a bigot. At worst he's a racist. Is anyone surprised that a middle aged white guy from the south thinks its okay to yell and call the first AA POTUS a liar during a world wide televised address to Congress? Why do people continue to suggest that there is no element of racism at the base of the criticisms and opposition to Pres. Obama? Wilson's hate so overwhelmed him that he could not contain himself. So sad.

    I don't mean to paint all southern white men with a broad brush, but if you look at his profile on the Congressional website, that is the profile you would expect of someone with so little respect for a black man of any position that he would yell and call the POTUS a liar during his speech.

    September 9, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  23. Speech Watcher

    So, did this Charles Boustany watch the president's speech before he wrote his rebutal? Everything he said he wanted for Republicans was what Obama said he wanted to do with this plan. They just have to complain and complain and complain. They have to face their voters and make it look like they are fighting for them, when they are saying the exact same things! Come on. Give Mr. Obama credit where credit is due. Everything President Obama said tonight made TOTAL sense. Admit it Republicans.

    September 9, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  24. Dee Dee Lynn

    Hey, where's the part about how this guy co-sponsored a bill providing for end of life (you know "death" panels). That's right, the Republican speaking against the bill authored the part that makes Republicans object to the bill. That's typical isn't it?

    Oh yes, and when Boehner was defending this guy, he denied that what he proposed were "death panels" and said they were a good idea.

    So let me get this straight. When it is presumed the Democrats have written a bill authorizing / compelling insurance companies to pay for end of life decision-making, then what we have are "death panels" BUT when a Republican writes the same bill / provision, its a necessary and useful reform.

    Usual Republican double-talk.

    September 9, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  25. Carole

    Why do they keep goin' to Louisianna? LOL

    September 9, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
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