Obama Signals Openness to GOP Reform Proposals

BY Lea Winerman  March 2, 2010 at 7:03 PM EDT

President Obama said Tuesday that he would consider incorporating four Republican ideas for health care reform into the Democrats’ legislation.

“I said throughout this process that I’d continue to draw on the best ideas from both parties,” the president wrote in a letter to congressional leaders. The Washington Post has the full letter. Mr. Obama is expected to make an announcement on the next steps in the reform push on Wednesday.

The ideas, which came up at the president’s bipartisan summit last week, include:

-Sending out undercover investigators to root out Medicare and Medicaid fraud and waste.

-Allowing the new health insurance exchange marketplace to offer high-deductible plans with Health Savings Accounts.

-Offering $50 million in grants to explore alternatives to medical malpractice lawsuits.

-Increasing Medicaid reimbursements to health care providers.

The president said his proposal would also remove provisions in the current legislation that give special Medicare and Medicaid benefits to individual states.

But Republican reaction to the offer was generally underwhelmed.

“There is no reason to lump sensible proposals into a fundamentally-flawed 2,000-page bill with taxpayer funding for abortion and more than 150 new federal programs, boards, and commissions that put bureaucrats between patients and their doctors,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. “The American people want the president to start over.”