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Stutzman: GOP has health care alternative


– Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, said Tuesday that House Republicans will produce a legislative alternative to the Affordable Care Act by summer.

“It will be an election-year issue, absolutely,” Stutzman said in an interview during a congressional recess visit to Fort Wayne.

All 425 House seats and 36 Senate seats are up for election this year.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that House GOP leaders are drafting health care legislation that will offer health savings accounts, provide for small-business insurance pools and allow the sale of medical insurance policies across state lines.

Stutzman said he supports those elements and “anything that gives individuals and small businesses flexibility, affordability and choices. I think that’s what people are looking for.”

Such provisions are included in legislation introduced by the conservative Republican Study Committee, a House caucus of which Stutzman is a member. He predicted more ideas will emerge and that GOP leadership “is going to coalesce behind one package.”

The Republican-controlled House has voted dozens of times to repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but the Democratic Senate has ignored the measures. Critics and foes of the GOP frequently charge that the party has failed to suggest a substitute for the health care law it wants to do away with.

“The president has changed the law over 15 times. … I think we all realize that Obamacare is not the fix to our health care challenges,” Stutzman said after touring an OmniSource metal recycling plant along Maumee Avenue.

“I was talking to folks at Lutheran (Health Network) today, and they still see a lot of folks who come in without insurance,” he said. “The system is still broken, and Republicans are working to fix that.”

On another matter, Stutzman said the White House should be promoting the sale of U.S. energy products to Ukraine as a way to counter Russia’s takeover of the Crimea region.

He said Russia’s oil and natural gas are what give its president Vladimir Putin, his clout.

“Go right after Putin’s customers,” Stutzman said. “ … It would put Putin in a situation where he’s got to realize his power is vulnerable right now because of our resources.”

When it comes to U.S. responses to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Stutzman said Obama needs to “put a line in the sand that he sticks to, and I don’t know if he’s got that ability. It doesn’t seem like he’s stuck to other lines that he’s drawn in the past.”

He added, “Besides Obamacare, this could be the real test of his legacy.”