By Garren Shipley - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Rep. Frank Wolf says health insurance needs to be reformed but Congress should not "throw the baby out with the bath water" in the process.
"I do not favor a government plan. I don't believe the government has the capacity for that to be done in an appropriate way," Wolf, R-10th, said Tuesday during an address to the Winchester Lion's Club.
Congressional Democrats and President Obama have been pushing for legislation that would dramatically overhaul how health coverage is handled in the U.S.
As currently drawn, the House bill would also create a new, public health insurance option in addition to putting strict new regulations on private insurance plans.
Opponents of the plan have turned out by the thousands at congressional "town hall" meetings across the country, letting members know in blunt terms where they stand on the issue.
"I think this will change the dynamic as we go back to Washington," Wolf said.
Obama administration officials indicated over the weekend that they may be willing to accept a bill that does not include a public health insurance option.
But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs insisted Tuesday that the administration has not wavered in its commitment to the public option.
Walking away from the public option would make change much more palatable, Wolf said.
"Hopefully, it can lead to a good health insurance reform bill that protects those that have health insurance that they like and through ways of pooling others so that they do have that opportunity," Wolf said.
Reform should also be done in a way "that does not impact on the deficit," he added.
That's not to say that health insurance doesn't need some change.
"Personally, I believe we need health care reform," Wolf said. "We can do away with pre-existing conditions, where you cannot be dropped based on pre-existing conditions."
Allowing insurance companies to drop people based on their medical status defeats the purpose of health insurance, Wolf noted.
"The reason you have the health insurance is to deal with that condition," he said.
Wolf also said he favors allowing parents to keep children on their health plans until age 25.
Above all, though, any changes have to be made in a thoughtful, bipartisan manner, and not rushed through like the $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus bill, he said.
Vocal objections from the public have definitely slowed the rush, Wolf said.
"The leadership of the Congress wanted to push legislation through before members had a chance to go back to their congressional districts and deal with this issue," he said.