During his address to a joint session of Congress President Obama said, “If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open.” Well, it’s time for the President and Congressional leaders to listen, especially if they are sincere about wanting a bipartisan approach to health care reform.

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, has joined a host of other Republicans in the House of Representatives by crafting a serious conservative alternative to the health plans that the President and the Democratic leadership are trying to push through Congress.

Dr. Price, who was a practicing physician for nearly 25 years before coming to Congress, has made a diagnosis and offered his prescription for what ails the current health care system.

Price writes, “Contrary to what the president has tried to convince the American people of, while we oppose his misguided ideas, Republicans are committed to positive health reform. No one in Congress finds the status quo acceptable.”

Price goes on to say, “Having practiced medicine for more than two decades, I personally know that the status quo must not stand. Whether coming from the federal government or an insurance company, the third-party decision making that drives our health care delivery system is increasingly distancing patients from quality care. Going down the path of more government will only compound the problem.”

Dr. Price has offered a third way– one that moves away from the current third-party dominated system to give patients more direct control over their own health care decisions and dollars. His legislation, the Empower Patients First Act, would:

  • Fix the unfairness in the tax treatment of health insurance by extending a tax credit or deduction to those without employer-sponsored insurance;
  • Use automatic enrollment, with a right to “opt out” of health insurance coverage, and promote defined-contributions for employer plans, instead of using government coercion and mandates, to expand coverage;
  • Establish health plan portals in the states so that patients can own and control their own health insurance;
  • Offer low-income Americans the option of a voucher to purchase private coverage; and
  • Give states incentives to experiment with how best to cover high cost individuals.

For months President Obama has suggested that on health reform the choice is between the Democrats plans before Congress or the status quo. Why not a third-way?

Congressional conservatives, like Rep. Price, have offered serious legislative proposals that include practical health care solutions. It’s time for official Washington to stop demonizing its critics and ordinary citizens who are opposed to its health care agenda. It’s time for the President and the Congressional leadership to get serious and to listen.