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. jules sand-perkins

    Boustany is absolutely right: what Obama wants, as stated tonight, is "unacceptable."
    The President had the opportunity tonight to take the socialistic public option off the table and gain support for meaningful reform.
    The President refused to do so. Instead, he played to those who will vote for him to get even more entitlement handouts, hoping to assure his second term.
    He may have secured votes for himself, but he refused to Change his own goals to achieve the greater good of health-care reform.
    Perhaps it was too much to expect from Mr. Obama, who is, after all, still a masterful politician and a Great Performer Series all by himself in the speech business.
    His substance has been a great disappointment since his dramatic election.

    September 9, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  2. m jeff

    Working with Republicans on healthcare is like Swimming with an anchor. Nothing will get done.

    September 9, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  3. Marshall

    Was he in an echo chamber? Really weird and pointless. Bobby Jindle (whatever) all over again.

    September 9, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  4. Liz

    This guy should have listened to President Obama's speech before he wrote his response. It wasn't even responsive! Another Jindal performance.

    September 9, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  5. John Davis

    Why would the President or anyone else want to reach out to an ignorant bigot. Why would the republican party allow an ignorant, birther bigot be the voice of the opposition other than their desire to work the 25% of folks in this country who are also ignorant bigots, into a frenzy in a hope to cause such an uproar that the country tears itself apart? It's dispicable and disgusting! The President and his majority should just muscle this through, making sure they get it right and when it works we all may find ourselves starting to allow credibility back into our government of the people.

    September 9, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. Idiot_Pelosi

    The SOCIALIST Obummer wants total social welfare.

    Well, I'm not paying anymore taxes or fees.

    Everytime I see a new tax or fee increase, that is the amount I will cheat on my taxes.

    September 9, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  7. Idiot_Pelosi

    By the way, let's make sure all the DEMS in CONGRESS and the While House are placed on this GOVT plan first.


    September 9, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  8. Tracy

    He was laughable... Jindahl was better than this character...

    September 9, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  9. Sandra

    What's the deal with all these Republicans delivering responses to presidential speeches? Bobby Jindal last time, and now this dude! They all look like 7 year olds reading for the first time in front of class. They are just so amateurish.

    September 9, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  10. Lola

    This man did not listen to the same speech I did. Everything he said wasn't addressed...was addressed by the President...He just choose not to hear it. If the average American,like myself can hear what President Obama said why is it so hard for the people in Washington (Republicans) not hear it. Closed minded and cold heart. They should all give up their health insursance.

    September 9, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  11. talkhazin

    How about reforming the rebuttal system so that you don't write or deliver the rebuttal until you actually listen a President's speech?

    Sounded like Boustany was rebutting to an entirely different speech

    September 9, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  12. jimmadison

    As far as the GOP is concerned, the only good health care reform is a dead health care reform.

    September 9, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  13. MCD, SF, CA

    He is so full of hooey! He states that they have been ready to work with the President! Does he have no shame?

    Three or four republicans have made an honest effort, all the rest have done nothing but find fault, tell lies and spread fear!

    September 9, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  14. PhilT

    It seems very clear the comments were prepared before the President gave his speech and/or before the comment writers had time to digest the text of the speech. Either that, or the words fell on ears unwilling to listento anything being said by President Obama.

    Time to move on with or without the republicans.

    September 9, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  15. Ger

    Laughable "response" by a cardiac surgeon without a heart. Oh, well, I guess the Dems will have to go it alone on this one too.

    September 9, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  16. Alan from Illinois

    A bipartisan bill must include a public option.

    To break it down so everyone can understand:

    "trigger" option = no public option

    no public option = no healthcare reform

    no healthcare reform = bankrupt Medicare

    And, only the most crass want to bankrupt Medicare.

    A centrist position would be that a public option is paid for by reduced premiums and not wholly from taxes. This is what Obama proposed. He is starting from the center instead of progessing to the left. Follow his lead. We cannot afford to wait.

    September 9, 2009 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  17. Gail

    I hope the GOP can retire the line "Government Tax Over" is time to act in the best interest of the country not the GOP. Obama was clear about the plan for reform and its time to sieze the moment.

    September 9, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  18. CycleMom

    Why does he feel the need to insert the negative political comments? His ideas were good enough to stand on their own. This "response" was very clearly written before Obama's speech. It makes me doubt the sincerity of his desire to reform.

    September 9, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  19. swood

    How can anyone take this hack seriously? He did little more than to repeat the same old lies. This guy makes like he speaks for all doctors, everywhere, when in fact most doctors and almost all other nurses and healthcare workers have felt for years that the insurance companies were out of control. Go back to the bayou, you're an embarrassment to your state and former profession.

    September 9, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  20. One more nail in the GOP coffin

    Who is this guy? Did he even pay any attention to anything the President said? Or is this just more of the same typical, knee-jerk, Republican't nonsense? Their opposition to healthcare reform is downright immoral. They should be ashamed.

    September 9, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  21. J Davisson

    It's unfortunate that Rep Boustany delivered his rebuttal without having listened to Obamas speech. If Boustany actually listened to the speech he wouldn't have sounded like he was in The Twlight Zone.

    September 9, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  22. gramma61

    Isn't this the birther dude who tried to buy some kind of royal title?

    September 9, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  23. On the other hand...

    One point the Republican feedback missed is the short-sighted scope of reform as being restricted to Insurance carriers. What about the real drivers of high cost in health, drug companies, doctors, etc.?

    For an analogy, suppose that the government decided to do something about the high cost of automobiles. This type of reform would suggest that putting in a government dealership would keep the other dealers honest and lower the cost? How about addressing the way autos are designed, built and delivered? Wouldn't that be more effective? What about some work on the way health care is designed, implemented and delivered? That's where the true costs are! If it's worth putting the effort in to fix, fix it correctly. A new dealership is just window dressing and a short term bandaid.

    September 9, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  24. rosemary

    The question is do you believe a physician that gets paid more then half million a year or do you believe a person (President) that knows what is needed for middle and low class families who just don't have enough to pay for insurance. I have a friend at work, she has never been without her dad was a doctor and she is a nurse. I sometimes have to open her eyes because I have been through and seen alot of what it takes because I've been there. Unless you've been there you do not have a clue. Please don't listen to the lies of the ones like Joe Wilson and other Repu.

    September 9, 2009 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  25. rosemary

    Sorry I forgot one thing, I work with physicians they are great and kind but, they would like to keep charging the same prices unfortunitly. Pharmacudecal companies would not like to down size on their revenue. So think about it all those that will be losing that don't want you to believe the President. Do you want to keep strugling?

    September 9, 2009 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
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