Several Republican politicians in the US Senate, US Congress and NC State General Assembly have said in the press or in correspondence written in response to my queries have described Obamacare as “National Health Insurance.” I have responded when I could that Obamacare is not national health insurance. It requires health insurance coverage through employer plans, exchanges of plans with more insurance and expanded Medicaid. For those who make below certain income thresholds (basically 4 x the poverty level) an increasing subsidy for the premiums is offered as the income level decreases.
What I also universally tell people is Obamacare is largely a Republican idea that was presented in early forms back in 1994 by Senator Bob Dole, as an alternative to the national health insurance proposed by President Clinton. The idea was liked so much, that Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts implemented a variation for his state which is working pretty well today. Senator Jim DeMint, Mr. Tea Party, even endorsed Romney and his plan in 2008, before he did the ultimate flip-flop once President Obama was able to get the very similar Obamacare passed. But, don’t take my word for it, here are selective news quotes from news stories the past few years and even a campaign website.
From the Bob Dole/ Jack Kemp Presidential Campaign website in 1996 – “In1994, Dole introduced a health care reform bill which had no price controls, no mandates and no taxes. The bill took on a common sense, free market approach to health-care reform, focusing primarily on insurance reform, while offering subsidies to help low-income Americans buy health insurance.”
Per Ezra Klein of The Washington Post on July 1, 2012 – “In 2007, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina sent a letter to President George W. Bush. DeMint said he would like to work with Bush to pass legislation that would ‘ensure that all Americans would have affordable, quality, private health coverage, while protecting current government programs. We believe the health care system cannot be fixed without providing solutions for everyone. Otherwise, the costs of those without insurance will continue to be shifted to those who do have coverage.’
“In the 2000s, Romney used the individual mandate to make Massachusetts the first state to actually achieve near-universal coverage. On the national level, Republicans as diverse as Newt Gingrich, Lamar Alexander and (Trent) Lott joined him. Republicans sometimes like to present their support for the individual mandate as a youthful indiscretion, but as late as June 2009, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was telling Fox News that ‘there is a bipartisan consensus to have an individual mandate.’
CNSNews.com on March 5, 2012 – “Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) told CNSNews.com that both Obamacare and Romneycare are unjust laws because they wrongfully mandate that individuals must purchase a product prescribed by the government. CNSNews.com asked DeMint in an Online With Terry Jeffrey interview, if he believed that the ‘type of health-care prescription and mandate’ enacted in Massachusetts under Gov. Mitt Romney was ‘a violation of the natural right of liberty.’ ‘Yeah, I think it is,’ said DeMint.”
From Right Speak News on March 19, 2011 – “If I sound like a broken record with my ‘individual mandate is a conservative creation’ posts, it is only because I am determined to not let spineless, conservative leaders rewrite the history of the conservative movement. DeMint can pretend all he wants that he believes that the individual mandate is horrible, but he can’t hide from the words he uttered less than three years ago. I personally saw DeMint live smothering Romney with praise at a Republican event in 2007. He had no qualms about Romneycare at the time. No qualms.”
Obamacare is not perfect, but it moves the ball forward in a huge way and has already helped millions with the earlier implemented provisions – no pre-existing conditions for children will deny coverage, adult children can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, no more lifetime maximums, and refunds to participants if an insurance company makes too much profit on your premiums, e.g. The forthcoming exchanges are an excellent idea and one that the GOP should embrace. In fact, my GOP Congressman has advocated repealing Obamacare and offering exchanges with subsidies (er, that is what Obamacare does).
I have written several posts on Obamacare. One such example follows: https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/healthcare-is-more-than-a-pawn-it-is-a-problem/. It is complex, but it is much-needed with so many lacking coverage and the US having the highest costing healthcare in the world with only the 38th best quality of care per the World Health Organization. I am frustrated with our GOP friends for making Obamacare a political chess game. For GOP led states choosing not to expand Medicaid to help millions of citizens around the country and economically benefitting the healthcare delivery system is poor stewardship and the pawns are the ones who suffer, not the politicians.
I have written my GOP Congressman several times to cease the Obamacare repeal votes and asking him not consider defunding it. I have also asked him to push our state legislature to reconsider the Medicaid expansion decision to not help those in need. These efforts make the GOP look poor and are not in the best interests of our country or state. And, if you read the above, it makes them look hypocritical.