Gingrey doubts GOP can stop health care bill, but vows to try

Two Georgia Republican congressmen vowed Monday to fight Democrats' attempt to adopt health care reform legislation this week, but one doubted the GOP can succeed.

U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, both Georgia Republicans and both physicians, told editors and reporters at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the plan to be debated in the U.S. House this week is too expensive and will drive up health care costs. Broun said the plan backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will "destroy America as we know it today."

But Gingrey said Democrats could well succeed in getting a health care bill through the House.

"It will be very, very difficult for us to defeat it outright," Gingrey said, noting that Democrats enjoy a large majority in the House.

That doesn't mean Republicans can't find victories within the larger fight, he said. For example, Gingrey said he believes that Republicans, working with moderate and conservative Democrats, will succeed in amending the bill to prevent tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions.

"That will be taken out," he said.

Broun is more optimistic about turning back the total package.

"I hope we defeat this and go back to the drawing board," he said.

The House late this week is expected to begin debate on its version of health care reform. Debate on a similar measure in the Senate is expected to begin soon as well. The House plan includes a so-called public option, which would create  an insurance plan run by the federal government to compete with private insurance companies. The Senate plan is expected to include some form of public option as well.

Republicans around the country are getting ready for the fight over the 1,900-page bill. Monday night at the state Capitol, the looming health care debate was a prime target of criticism at a protest dubbed the Atlanta Tea Party. Demonstrators gathered one year in advance of the 2010 mid-term elections to rally opposition to President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

Broun and Gingrey said Monday that they favor a more incremental approach to health care reform, and they outlined steps they said could drive down costs and improve access to care. Key among them is legislation that would limit physicians' vulnerability to frivolous medical malpractice claims. They also support allowing consumers in one state to purchase insurance from companies that operate only in other states.

Both men disputed a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that found the House Democrats' plan would lower the federal deficit despite its nearly $1 trillion price tag.