Having voted this week to repeal the current health care reform law, Republicans on Thursday embarked on a mission to replace it with a fundamentally different approach focused on lowering the cost of health care and not necessarily providing coverage for the millions who are uninsured. "I think one of the focuses needs to be getting the cost down of health care," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said. "People are more concerned about cost. Obviously, if we can get the cost down the opportunity to afford health care goes up and you get more coverage."

By a vote of 253-175, the House passed a resolution instructing four of its committees to start crafting measures that would serve as a substitute for President Obama's billion-dollar health care measure that is now the law of the land.

The current reform measure, passed by Democrats in March 2010, would eventually insure up to 30 million people by expanding Medicaid and providing government subsidies for private health insurance. The law requires that everyone buy an insurance policy or pay a fine and is funded by a plan to raise taxes and slash Medicare spending by nearly half a trillion dollars.

Republicans want to do away with the existing law and instead write legislation in a piecemeal fashion to replace it.

But first, the GOP plans to scrutinize the current bill, including the coverage mandate and taxes associated with it, at a series of congressional hearings.

"We are starting on a process to engage our colleagues and the American people as we look at genuine, meaningful health care reform," Education and Labor Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., said. "That process starts with aggressive oversight of the current law."

Republicans have some specifics in mind for lowering costs. They want to impose a cap on damages and attorneys' fees that could be collected in medical liability lawsuits, which House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas., said would lower premiums by up to 30 percent. Republicans say they will also examine allowing interstate insurance sales and association health plans, which would allow small businesses to pool together to purchase health care coverage for their employees.

Republicans stressed that they believe a smaller and slower approach is the best way to address health care reform, rather than through a massive bill like the one Democrats eventually passed into law.

But they were quick to push ahead Thursday with a bill that would block the use of taxpayer money for abortions. Republicans say the bill closes a loophole in the health care reform law that they believe allows public funds to be spent on abortion coverage.

Jessica Arons, director of the Women's Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said the bill actually discourages private health insurance coverage of abortion by preventing individuals or businesses from deducting such coverage from their taxes.

"Republicans said they were planning on replacing the health care reform law and instead the first thing they roll out is over abortion access," Arons said.