Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Some Gop Lawmakers Back Plan; Others Call It Frightening

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Some Gop Lawmakers Back Plan; Others Call It Frightening

Article excerpt

Republicans praised President Bill Clinton on Wednesday night for tackling a balky and cumbersome health-care system but questioned whether a "one-size-fits-all" solution would work.

Sen. Connie Mack of Florida said the ensuing national debate would be over "how to do it."

"And we want it done right - with less government and more freedom," Mack said.

Mack joined Rep. Nancy Johnson of Connecticut and South Carolina Gov. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. in the official, nationally broadcast Republican response to Clinton's address.

But Republicans were not universally skeptical of Clinton's plan.

"I'm favorably disposed to the concept of what he's trying to do," said Sen. Bob Packwood, an Oregon moderate and a member of the Finance Committee. "I don't think we're that far apart." Packwood has withheld support for a Senate Republican alternative by John Chafee of Rhode Island, keeping the possibility open for backing Clinton.

Some other moderate Republicans have been extraordinarily conciliatory to Clinton on health care and are expected to be potential allies. But Packwood is the first to indicate so clearly that he may back Clinton's plan, including the "employer mandates" requiring all companies to chip in for their workers' insurance.

Chafee, John C. Danforth of Missouri, Nancy L. Kassebaum of Kansas, Dave Durenberger of Minnesota, James Jeffords of Vermont and Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon are other Republicans viewed as potential allies for Clinton.

In the House, Rep. Jim Nussle, a Republican from Iowa, also reacted favorably to the plan. "I think we've got a great foundation to start with, and I think we're all singing off the same song sheet," Nussle said.

But Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole of Kansas said Wednesday that although the Republicans would try to work with Clinton and congressional Democrats to fashion a new health-care system, "we have some disagreements on the prescription for reform. …

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