The House Republican Conference was joined this morning by Gov. Jim Douglas (VT) and Gov. Mike Rounds (SD). A video of this morning's Leadership Press Conference and text of the Governors' coments are below:
Gov. Jim Douglas:
I want to echo the Leader’s sentiments about the importance of a bipartisan approach to health care reform. This is an increasingly large percentage of our gross domestic product. It’s an increasingly large percentage of state budgets all across the nation. We need to get these costs under control. We need to change the way we deliver health care. To pay for quality rather quantity. To focus on prevention and chronic disease management, on ensuring that the American taxpayer and ratepayer gets the best bang for his or her buck. So, Governor Rounds and I are here for some meetings with Democrat leaders, as well as the Republican Caucus. I want to make sure that all the good ideas from the Republicans are considered in this process. The American people need a bipartisan solution.
We’ve done it in Vermont. We have a program called Green Mountain Care that is based on prevention and chronic disease management. We’ve saved hundreds of millions of dollars through the flexibility that we’ve received through our Medicaid waivers. So the message that the Leader articulated is an important one. No unfunded mandates to the states, flexibility so that states can experiment and do it their own way and a focus on quality and outcome so that we can control costs for the American people.
Gov. Mike Rounds:
Ninety-one percent of our people have a plan for taking care of their health care. Nine percent don’t. We can do better. The reason that we’re here today is to participate and we’d love to see it be a bipartisan effort - one in which we can improve health care. But at the same time, we have to be able to pay for it. Concerns that we’re expressing are that as states, we know that we share part of that burden. Today, we’re really struggling. We know the federal government is struggling. Anything that we do in health care, we have to have a long-term plan to pay the bills. If we don’t have that, it would not be sustainable and it would not be an improvement.
In South Dakota, we think that there are more reforms that could be done. In 2003, we had three insurance companies left offering individual health care products. Today we have 18, because we’ve opened up the market. We’ve made it competitive. We’ve laid the ground rules out but we did it in such a fashion that it worked for South Dakota. We don’t want to have the states lose the ability to be that laboratory where we can make things better. That’s the reason why we’re here today. We look forward to a very good discussion and coming up with a good plan that Republicans and Democrats alike can look at and say “we did something good for the rest of America.