Capitol Hill at sunrise
Capitol Hill at sunrise - 
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Kai Ryssdal: Senate majority leader Harry Reid dropped a big old health care hint today. Reid was asked if a bill would be passed by the end of the year, and he said he's not going to be bound by any timeline. Meanwhile, details of a Republican proposal to counter the Democrats' offering are trickling out. We don't know exactly what it would cost. The Congressional Budget Office is still running the numbers. But we do know the GOP is trying to convince voters it's more interested in cutting health care costs than Democrats are. Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: House Republicans say their plan boils down to cutting health care costs, while Democrats would expand coverage. The GOP plans to offer its alternative as an amendment to the Democrats' health care overhaul. Republicans would curb malpractice lawsuits. They say that would save money because doctors wouldn't order unnecessary tests to keep from being sued. The GOP proposal would let small businesses pool together to buy insurance, and it would provide incentives for health savings accounts.

Republican Aaron Schock of Illinois.

CONGRESSMAN AARON SCHOCK: We're committed to finding ways to reduce costs, and make health insurance more affordable to everyone, to help get those 30 to 40 million Americans who don't have health insurance covered.

Republicans, like Democrats, say they want to help people with pre- existing conditions get affordable health care. But they leave out a number of key features of the Democrats' bill, including a government-run insurance option.

Democrat Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania says a government option would lower insurance rates.

CONGRESSWOMAN ALLYSON SCHWARTZ: Hopefully it would be able to provide those affordable rates, and make sure that there is some competition in every region of the country.

Amitabh Chandrah is a health care economist at Harvard. He says both Republicans and Democrats are ignoring a very expensive elephant in the room: soaring Medicare costs.

AMITABH CHANDRAH: The elephant is like destroying all the china, and we know it and we're not willing to do anything about it because of the politics.

Chandrah says both parties think it would be political suicide to reform Medicare. But he says you can't contain health care costs without looking at Medicare.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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