ND Rep.: 'Big bang' health care approach failedBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A ``big bang' approach to overhauling the nation's health care system has failed, North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy said Friday, adding that he favors smaller proposals with the potential to attract Republican support.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A ``big bang' approach to overhauling the nation's health care system has failed, North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy said Friday, adding that he favors smaller proposals with the potential to attract Republican support.
Pomeroy said he would back repealing a limited federal antitrust exemption for the insurance industry, a step he said could promote more competition among companies. Insurers say the exemption allows them to share loss information that is helpful in setting prices for policies.
Pomeroy, a Democrat who is running for his 10th term in the House, said he also favors increased aid for community health clinics such as Fargo's Family HealthCare Center. The center was recently awarded a $6.6 million federal grant, which it intends to use to buy and renovate a downtown building.
Pomeroy voted for a sweeping health care overhaul measure in the House in November. The Senate has since endorsed its own bill, but the issue has stalled. Pomeroy said Friday he would not support either measure without changes.
``I believe the 'big bang' approach to health reform has been fairly well rejected, in the context of the feelings of the American people,' Pomeroy said. ``As we figure out how to go from here, we ought to be responsive, and look at an incremental, bipartisan approach.'
Republicans who are competing for the state GOP endorsement to run against Pomeroy this fall said public pressure had forced the incumbent Democrat to backtrack.
``It's nice to see that he's got more to fear from the voters of North Dakota than he does from (U.S. House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi,' said Kevin Cramer, a state public service commissioner.
Cramer is one of three declared Republican candidates for the House endorsement. The other two are Paul Schaffner, a Bismarck insurance agent, and state Rep. Rick Berg of Fargo.
``I do appreciate his acknowledgment that an incremental approach is a far better one,' Cramer said. ``Some of the increments will be acceptable, and clearly, some will not.'
Berg said he believed the health legislation ``should be put on hold and defeated,' and that Congress should turn its attention to ways to encourage job creation.
``The No. 1 focus in our country needs to be about jobs,' Berg said. ``If we get the nation down from a 10 percent unemployment rate, we're going to help the health care of a lot of people.'