GOP reform alternative in the works after all?

GOP REFORM ALTERNATIVE IN THE WORKS AFTER ALL?…. Douglas Holtz-Eakin isn’t worried about congressional Republicans opposing Democratic health care reform plans, but he doesn’t think the GOP can get away with failing to present a reform alternative.

The McCain campaign’s senior economist said on Monday that the Republican Party will lose the health care debate unless it presents one, comprehensive alternative plan to compare with Democratic-led effort.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was the main spokesperson on health care matters for the Arizona Republican during the 2008 presidential election, applauded individual Republicans for putting forth “good policies” that would promote individual markets for coverage. He even noted that there is a political benefit to simply opposing Democratic legislation.

But, he added, “I do think that it is beneficial for Republicans as a whole to have a consensus alternative… Collectively we lose if we don’t provide an alternative.”

(The issue is more than an academic exercise for Holtz-Eakin — the McCain campaign’s top health-care guru is unemployed; he’s been paying $1,000 a month for coverage through COBRA; and he has a pre-existing condition that might prove problematic for private insurers. Holtz-Eakin expects to now pay exorbitant premiums through an individual health insurance plan.)

Congressional Republican leaders, at least for now, appear to agree with Holtz-Eakin’s assessment. The Wall Street Journal reports today that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) intends to produce a Republican reform package. It will apparently be built around the concept of high-risk pools, which have already proven to be ineffective when tried in a variety of states.

In the Senate, meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was practically taunting Senate Republicans about their still-missing plan. In a letter to most of the GOP caucus, Reid said, “I would note that the Republican leadership’s health care plan remains a secret, unless perhaps it does not exist.”

The Majority Leader also encouraged GOP senators to “immediately” make their proposal available to the public: “I am sure you agree that the American people deserve the opportunity to fully review both parties’ health care reform plans before we begin this important debate.”