Republican congressman suggests GOP spent 8 years saving their health care plan for 2019

Josh Israel

Josh Israel Senior Investigative Reporter, Think Progress

Rep. Greg Walden (R-OH), who chaired the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce until the 2018 blue wave cost his party its control of Congress, went on Fox News Tuesday to denounce Medicare for All and other proposals to create a single-payer system for health care. Asked about his party’s lack of an alternative, he suggested that they would have had one had they kept their majority.

Walden has been in Congress for just over 20 years. His party held the majority for 16 of them. Since 2011, they spent much of their time pushing to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, although most of their more than 50 attempts to kill the bill (in whole or part) were more focused on the “repeal” and less on the “replace.” In May of 2017, Walden voted for the wildly unpopular Trumpcare proposal, which would have taken health insurance away from an estimated 14 million people.

Walden said on Tuesday that the single-payer proposals were a “complete government takeover” of the health care system and would turn the United States into Venezuela.  Citing a single example of a Canadian woman who had a long wait for a cancer diagnosis under that country’s system, he predicted “If you think it’s fun to wait in line at DMV, you’ll gonna love [Sen.] Bernie Sanders’ [(I-VT)] wait times for Medicare for All.”

But pressed by Fox News to explain what his party’s solution was, Walden claimed that they would have tamed the nation’s growing health care costs had they only kept control of the House.

“I want to go after costs of health care,” he said. “If I had remained as chairman, if Republicans had stayed in the majority, that was our focus: to get drug costs down, find out why hospital costs are so high, look at every part of this medical industrial complex.”

Walden did not indicate why he, his committee, and his party did not do this during their time in the majority.

Josh Israel is a senior investigative reporter for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Previously, he was a reporter and oversaw money-in-politics reporting at the Center for Public Integrity, was chief researcher for Nick Kotz’s acclaimed 2005 book Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Laws that Changed America, and was president of the Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club. A New England-native, Josh received a B.A. in politics from Brandeis University and graduated from the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, in 2004. He has appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox News, Current TV, and many radio shows across the country.

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