By Todd Beamon and John Bachman
No matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on Obamacare, the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, tells Newsmax.TV that the fate of healthcare in America will ultimately rest on the November election.
"This election is truly going to set the stage for the future of healthcare in America -- the direction that we take -- and it's going to be very important that we get the right people elected," asserted the Washington State congresswoman in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
"We are hopeful that the Supreme Court sees and rules that the bill is unconstitutional in its entirety, and gives us an opportunity to start all over," McMorris Rodgers explained. "If they should rule that only portions of it are unconstitutional -- or the individual mandate -- we're going to be ready to once again take action to repeal that bill in its entirety. And should they uphold the bill in its entirety -- then it's clear that we will be taking action in the House."
Having been mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick, McMorris Rodgers was recently named by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney as his liaison to the House GOP conference.
The job involves keeping GOP House members apprised of the former Massachusetts governor's plan and message. Romney's contact on the Senate side is Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
President Barack Obama's healthcare plan has galvanized Republicans in both houses, McMorris Rodgers charged, adding that lawmakers are preparing for every possibility.
"Boy, we have been doing a lot of preparation. No one knows how the Supreme Court is going to rule," she acknowledged. "So, right now, it's a lot of conversations between the House Republicans, the Senate Republicans, Gov. Romney and his team mapping out the different scenarios and trying to be prepared as much as possible."
McMorris Rodgers insisted that Obamacare is seen as a "big disaster" by her Republican colleagues in the House. "We believe that there's a much better approach. We remain committed to repealing the president's healthcare bill in its entirety and moving forward with a better approach that will ensure that we have access to quality and affordable healthcare," she said.
In contrast to what she described as Obama's "government takeover of healthcare," she said that Republicans favor a "step-by-step approach."
She also said that she has been working with her Senate counterpart regularly. "I have been meeting with Sen. Blunt on a weekly basis, also meeting regularly with the Romney team. Part of my role is on messaging. To make sure that as much as possible lines of communication are open and that we are in sync when it comes to the message coming from Republicans," she said.
In addition to getting Romney's message to her House colleagues, she is also charged with communicating back to Romney and his team on legislative priorities in the House "and really connecting him with members who have the expertise," she explained. "But there's also just a lot of logistics to make sure that we're pulling in the same direction."
McMorris Rodgers views President Barack Obama's policies as the "wrong path for America" and said that House Republicans are united in their opposition to Obamacare.
"On healthcare, specifically, there is unity and, clearly, every single person in the House and the Senate, and Gov. Romney, wants to see this bill repealed," she said, adding that she supports reforms that give individual families greater access to affordable health insurance options.
"We must cherish that relationship between the doctor and the patient," she said. "We also need to make sure that safety nets are secure, that they are supportive -- whether it's Medicare, Medicaid -- we need to look at those safety nets. We need to make sure that people are not having to declare bankruptcy because of healthcare costs. Some of the first steps that we can take are those that really address the cost-drivers in our healthcare system. And that's where we're going to see more of the focus."
Republicans will focus on reducing costs, while preserving "choices within the system" and avoiding government interference, she said.
Specific recommendations include "allowing more options by allowing purchase outside of your own state, strengthening health savings accounts, allowing for small groups to pool together, addressing medical-liability reform which is one of the biggest cost drivers within the healthcare system," according to McMorris Rodgers, who believes that Americans need more -- not less -- choice.
"We need more transparency. We need more choice. We need more competition within the healthcare system to bring back the decision-making to the individual and make sure that that is protected," she said.
McMorris Rodgers also pointed to Romney's support of TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL oil pipeline project as an example of a private-sector initiative that has been stymied by the administration. The pipeline would carry crude from Canada and from the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota and Montana to Texas refineries.
"This is a great example, where this is a private-sector project ready to go, and all we need from the federal government is for them to get out of the way -- and, instead, the federal government is putting up roadblocks and President Obama is saying "no' to American energy, and instead he takes this approach where he likes to pick the winners and losers -- the Solyndra approach where the federal government invested $500 million in one company that has now gone bankrupt," she charged.
"It's quite a contrast, the Keystone economy versus the Solyndra economy," she said.
Obama put the project on hold in January after four years of environmental reviews and months of high-profile protests from environmental groups.
"There's so many projects out there where we could be putting people back to work, bringing down gas prices -- doubled under President Obama -- and making us less dependent upon foreign oil. It's one of the best ways that we can get our economy growing."
McMorris Rodgers declined to speculate on her chances to be Romney's running mate.
"I am focused on being the best representative that I can be for eastern Washington -- and I am also doing what I can to elect a new president, because I think that that is most important for America," she insisted.