Kline Tells Business Group, ‘It’s Time to Push the Reset Button’
By Anna Palmer
Roll Call Staff
Aug. 27, 2009, 3:39 p.m.
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WACONIA, Minn. — Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) told members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here Thursday afternoon that Republicans and Democrats should throw out the proposed Democratic and Republican health care bills and start over.
“It’s time to push the reset button,” Kline said to more than 50 constituents gathered at the Island View Golf Club.
Over a standard Midwestern meat and potatoes buffet lunch, Kline said that the Obama administration’s claim that people who are happy with their health care coverage will be able to continue with the same insurance plans in the future isn’t accurate.
“If you like it, you can keep it, is simply not true,” Kline said.
Medicare Advantage is one program, according to Kline, that would be significantly changed.
The four-term Republican has opted against the more public platform of holding health care town halls, favoring talking with smaller groups of constituents.
Rep. Tim Walz (D), who represents an adjoining district in southern Minnesota, publicly invited Kline to partake in a joint town hall earlier this month, but Kline declined, questioning the intention of the invitation.
The newly installed ranking member on the House Education and Labor Committee has been a vocal opponent against the Democratic health care reform proposal from the start.
That committee role has given Kline the platform to lambaste the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress for not working in a bipartisan manner. While the Democratic majority on the panel voted the health care legislation out of committee, Kline has publicly dismissed the 1,000-plus page legislation as a Democratic bill.
Kline said he would continue to “oppose it hard.”
Kline said he believed there are some areas of health care reform that Democrats and Republicans can agree on, including expanding coverage for students until they are 25 years old.
Kline also proposed adding medical malpractice reforms to the overall health care package.
U.S Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Regional Affairs and Advocacy Doug Loon said he’s heard members react to the legislation with anxiety and questions about health care reform in the 10 Chamber of Commerce events he’s been at over the past three weeks.
“Everybody’s an expert in health care because it affects everybody,” Loon said.
Minnesota state Rep. Paul Kohls (R), who is running for governor in 2010, says he shares the concerns that have been raised by the public. As a candidate, Kohls said, the biggest anxiety is about how reform could impact state Medicaid budgets.
“There’s a huge concern about the impact on all the states’ Medicaid budgets,” Kohls said. Additionally, Kohls said that Minnesota has led the way in health care reform in the past and he wants to make sure that those reforms remain.
“We’ve led the nation here in Minnesota,” Kohls said, citing the growth of health savings accounts among Minnesotans. “I don’t want to see those reforms being rolled back as a result of nationalized health care.”
Maryann Porter, owner of Rising Star Dance Academy in Victoria and Silver Swan Studios in Albertville, said she would like Congress to slow down instead of pushing through a health care plan this year.
“I don’t want them to make hasty decisions,” Porter said. “I think there are more ideas that need to be embraced.”
So far, Porter said she supports the co-op option.
“We have a wonderful hospital,” Porter said. “I’d rather pay my premium to it. Let’s take out the middle man.”
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