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Out of the Leadership Loop, Price Is Free to Forge His Path on Health Care

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Price said the Republican Party should come together to write and promote its own health care bill to show voters the GOP’s vision. His membership on the Ways and Means Committee gives him a platform on the issue.

But since he lost to McMorris Rodgers, Price has stayed on message on other GOP priorities, such as the fiscal cliff. At least publicly, that is what GOP leaders appear to expect. In a statement to Roll Call, Boehner said, “Tom is an important part of our team and he has been a leader on key issues like jobs, spending, and health care. That isn’t going to change.”

Even without a leadership perch, Price’s seat on the Ways and Means Committee provides him with a platform on issues such as health care and tax overhaul.

“I know that you don’t have to be the leader to lead. There are all sorts of opportunities, and there is more than enough work to go around. I’ve told the speaker, and the leader and others in leadership that I’m here to serve in whatever role I can best play to help advance conservative principles. And I’m happy to help,” Price said.

Price is certain to continue to play a key role on health care, even if the chances for full repeal are out of reach with Obama in office for another four years.

The Georgia Republican offered a multipart strategy for his party going forward.

First, Price said, the House should focus on parts of the law for which there is bipartisan support for repeal. He said the medical device tax, the Independent Payment Advisory Board and a “medical loss ratio” rule were examples.

Second, the Obama administration will likely need Congress to fix legally problematic sections of the law, such as language about subsidies for health care exchanges.

Any changes or improvements to the law sought by the administration could provide the House leverage for changes that Republicans want.

Third, Price said the GOP must unify around and promote its own health care bill to show voters what “patient-centered” reform looks like.

“We’re the minority party in Washington. Democrats control the Senate. Democrats have the White House. Part of the role of the minority is not just to hold the other side accountable. It’s to also provide a positive contrast for real solutions. And in this instance, we have a real solution for the health challenges that the country faces that actually solves the problem and puts patients [first],” Price said.

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