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GOP leader calls for health care repeal, replace

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[April 01, 2010]  WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. health care system is in serious need of changes, but the Democratic plan to overhaul it is badly flawed and should be repealed and replaced, the Senate Republican leader says.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Saturday in the GOP radio and video address that "nobody is satisfied with the health care system as it is."

Costs are out of control and "people are being squeezed out of the market," he said.

But he said the health care bill signed by President Barack Obama this week doesn't solve those problems and undermines what is best about health care in this country - a wide variety of medical options and innovations.

The main health care law and a companion "fix-it" measure aim to crack down on insurance industry abuses and to reduce federal deficits by an estimated $143 billion over a decade. Most Americans would be required to buy insurance for the first time or face penalties.

McConnell was emphasizing a new GOP political approach opposing Democrats' health care measures that proposes "repealing and replacing" the bill rather than just repealing the new health care law. Republicans say they can push for parts of the health care overhaul without adopting elements they don't like, such as tax increases.

"We can do better," he said. "We can expand access to people with pre-existing conditions. We can keep people from being kicked off their plans. We can lower costs and premiums. We can do all of these things without undermining the things we do best and without raising taxes that kill jobs in a bad economy."

Republicans want to appeal to tea party supporters and other conservatives upset at the size and scope of the legislation, while acknowledging that many people, including moderate Republicans and independents, want to see changes in American health care.

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Obama said this week that he welcomes a political fight with Republicans over efforts to repeal the bill.

Repeal is highly unlikely because Republicans are now in the minority in both houses and would need a two-thirds majority to overcome a certain veto by Obama.

Democrats passed the health overhaul bills with no Republican votes. Having already signed the sweeping measure, Obama plans to sign the companion fix-it legislation on Tuesday.

[Associated Press; By WILL LESTER]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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