Republicans set to debate healthcare ideas with Obama; Medicaid, malpractice caps may be on agenda

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Republicans are scheduled to participate in a televised showdown with President Obama on healthcare reform on Feb. 25.

One issue Republicans will surely mention in their upcoming meeting with congressional Democrats and the president is their strong opposition to an expanded Medicaid program. Nursing home groups have expressed concern that an expanded Medicaid program would take already-scarce funds and stretch them even thinner, taking money away from care for seniors.

Malpractice reform is another issue likely to come up for discussion. Republicans insist that a limit on malpractice awards, especially in cases concerning pain and suffering, could help keep healthcare costs low, according to the Times. The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled that such caps are unconstitutional. (McKnight's, 2/9/10)

But the proposed summit already has provoked controversy. This week, in a letter to the White House, Republican leaders said their members would be reluctant to participate in a discussion based on the current healthcare reform legislation. The letter asks the White House to make available any legislative proposals to be presented at least 72 hours in advance and to eliminate the possibility of passing healthcare reform through the budget reconciliation process. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is expected to participate in the exchange of healthcare reform ideas. He believes in setting up state health insurance exchanges where consumers could compare and buy coverage.