Joined: Sep 2009
Are Republicans Bending on Obamacare?
Are Republicans Bending On ‘Obamacare’?
Rep. Allen West (R-FL)
SAHIL KAPUR MAY 28, 2012, 12:31 PM 18681
As the landmark Supreme Court decision looms next month, Republicans have been privately considering a plan to reinstate some popular provisions of “Obamacare” if it’s struck down.
The revelation sent conservative advocates — who have demanded nothing less than total repeal — into a tizzy, which forced House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to reaffirm his commitment to “repealing Obamacare in its entirety,” declaring that “[a]nything short of that is unacceptable.”
But more evidence is emerging that Republicans believe that’s not tenable.
Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a tea party darling, told ThinkProgress that he supports preserving three popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act — the same three that his party’s leaders are reportedly considering.
“You’ve got to replace it with something,” West said. “If people want to keep their kid on insurance at 26, fine. We’ve got to make sure no American gets turned back for pre-existing conditions, that’s fine. Keep the doughnut hole closed, that’s fine. But what I just talked to you about — maybe 20, 25 pages of legislation.”
This underscores the GOP’s no-win predicament and helps explain why the party has no replacement plan years after promising one. If they successfully gut “Obamacare” and leave it at that, they’ll face the blame for snatching away its popular benefits. But if they push to keep parts of the law, they’ll face the wrath of powerful conservative groups, which have repeatedly proven their clout at purging Republican lawmakers who buck the right’s demands.
“We would be very concerned about bills to resurrect parts of Obamacare,” said Dean Clancy, the top health care advocate for the influential conservative group FreedomWorks.
A Republican health care aide said members of his party recognize the dilemma.
“I do think some Republicans are finally starting to realize they could be the dog that caught the car,” the aide said.
Joined: Sep 2009
Must be really upsetting to SiriuslyWrong.
Senate Republicans are echoing the House GOP’s shift in favor of some of the more popular “Obamacare” provisions, a sign that the party is uniting behind the strategy ahead of the election.
With a Supreme Court decision looming next month, House Republicans are privately weighing a plan to reinstate three popular elements of the law if it’s struck down — guaranteeing coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults up to 26 years old to remain on a parent’s insurance policy, and closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.”
Whether coverage of pre-existing conditions is economically viable for insurers without an individual mandate is a dubious proposition, but practical realities are taking a back seat to election year imperatives. It’s not a hard sell to voters: you can have all the popular provisions of health care reform without the unpopular ones.
Despite the blowback from conservatives, who want nothing less than to wipe out the law in its entirety, top Senate Republicans are signaling that they’re behind the strategy of resurrecting some aspects of the Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Roy Blunt (MO), vice chair of the Senate GOP Conference, offered a ringing defense of the “Obamacare” under-26 provision, and said he wouldn’t oppose ideas he previously supported simply because President Obama adopted them.
“I believe that’s one of the things that the Congress would surely reinstate,” Blunt told the St. Louis radio station KTRS in an interview last Thursday, pointing out that he has offered similar legislation in the past. “It’s a way to get a significant number of the uninsured into an insurance group without much cost. … It’s one of the things I think should continue.”
“I’ve been in a couple meetings lately and there’s some general understanding that that’s one of the things … and there are other things like that as well,” the senator added.
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
No, that doesn't make me "upset".
The mandate is concerning though.
Allen West? Not quite the rigid ideologue you've painted him out to be. Maybe you're the one that's upset?
Joined: Sep 2009
I could have sworn you said you despised Obamacare.
Now Republicans are adopting some of the provisions for political reasons.
"The deeper problem with the GOP’s fall-back plan is that guaranteeing coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions is economically infeasible without a requirement, like the “Obamacare” individual mandate, to bring young and healthy people into the insurance system. It addresses the need to spread risk and prevent costs from spiraling upward."
Do you like Allen West? Please tell us all about it. Lol.
Why dont you start a new thread about it.
Last edited by Havakasha; 05-31-2012 at 12:07 AM.
Joined: Sep 2009
Of all the arguments being waged over the Affordable Care Act — or, as the Obama campaign now likes to refer to it, “Obamacare” — the one dominating the Supreme Court this week is perhaps the most conceptually trivial.
If the individual mandate goes, the government is going to put its hands all over your health care. (Alex Wong - GETTY IMAGES) The individual mandate requires consumers to purchase health insurance in order to eliminate the problem of free riders — people who don’t purchase insurance until they get sick or injured or those who never purchase insurance and end up passing on to the rest of us the costs of care they can’t afford. Detractors argue that the mandate unconstitutionally infringes on personal liberty by forcing Americans to purchase health insurance. But compare it to three ways of addressing the free- rider problem in health care that are clearly, indisputably, constitutional:
• Single payer: The federal government increases income taxes and, in return, guarantees everyone government-provided health-care insurance. There is no option to opt out of the taxes. This is how most of Medicare works, though the insurance kicks in only after you turn 65.
• Late-enrollment penalty: The single-payer approach only holds for “most of” Medicare because the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit works a bit differently. For every month that you don’t enroll after becoming eligible at age 65, your premium rises by one percentage point.
• Tax credits: Under various health-care proposals — including the plan of Rep.Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — the tax code is changed to give families a tax credit for purchasing private health insurance. Families that choose to go without insurance, or simply can’t afford it, would not receive the tax credit.
All of these plans share the same basic approach: They impose a financial penalty, either before or after the fact, on those who forgo health insurance. Single payer does it through taxes, Medicare Part D through premiums and Ryan’s plan through tax credits.
Now consider the individual mandate. Here’s how it works: Starting in 2016, those who don’t carry insurance will be annually assessed a fine of $695 or 2.5 percent of their income, whichever is higher.
Skeptics of government should clearly prefer the individual mandate to single payer. In fact, the individual mandate was developed by conservative economist Mark Pauly as an alternative to single payer. “We did it because we were concerned about the specter of single-payer insurance, which isn’t market-oriented, and we didn’t think was a good idea,” Pauly told me last year. In the 1990s, the individual mandate was also the Republican counterproposal to President Bill Clinton’s health-care bill, and in 2005, it was the centerpiece of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s health-care reforms.
The Medicare Part D model doesn’t really work as an alternative to the individual mandate because it requires the federal government to set the cost of premiums. That’s possible with the over-65 set, because the government controls the market. To import that idea to the under-65 market, however, would require vastly more governmental intrusion into the health-care space.
The tax credit, meanwhile, is essentially indistinguishable from the mandate. Ryan’s plan offers a $2,300 refundable tax credit to individuals and a $5,700 credit to families who purchase private health insurance. Of course, tax credits aren’t free. In effect, what Ryan’s plan does is raise taxes and/or cut services by the cost of his credit and then rebate the difference to everyone who signs up for health insurance. It’s essentially a roundabout version of the individual mandate, which directly taxes people who don’t buy health insurance in the first place.
“It’s the same,” says William Gale, director of the Tax Policy Center. “The economics of saying you get a credit if you buy insurance and you don’t if you don’t are not different than the economics of saying you pay a penalty if you don’t buy insurance and you don’t if you do.”
Interestingly, Ryan’s plan imposes, if anything, a harsher penalty on those who don’t purchase health insurance. Ryan’s tax credit is far larger than the individual mandate’s penalty, and much easier to enforce. Under Ryan’s plan, if you don’t purchase insurance, you don’t get the credit. End of story. Conversely, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t include an actual enforcement mechanism for the individual mandate. If you refuse to pay it, the IRS can’t throw you in jail, dock your wages or really do anything at all.
Joined: Sep 2009
Conservatives Wonder Why Romney Picked Obamacare-Loving Mike Leavitt To Lead Transition Team
Former Utah Governor and HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt
SAHIL KAPUR JUNE 4, 2012, 11:52 AM 1889
Mitt Romney is under fire from conservatives for selecting a man to run his White House transition team who has championed a key element of “Obamacare” and benefited financially from the law — and the Romney campaign is already working to ease the right’s concerns.
Romney has tapped Michael Leavitt, the former Utah governor who was the secretary of of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, to lead the team that builds his potential administration. He runs the health care consulting firm Leavitt Partners, which advises states on how to set up the insurance market exchanges in the signature Affordable Care Act.
The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Leavitt “strenuously backed the core piece of President Barack Obama’s health-care law and urged the states to move forward together in adopting health insurance exchanges.” And his stance hasn’t changed: “We believe that the exchanges are the solution to small business insurance market and that’s gotten us sideways with some conservatives,” Leavitt’s top aide Rich McKeown told Politico.
“We’re troubled by it,” Dean Clancy, who runs health care advocacy for the Dick Armey-led conservative group FreedomWorks, told TPM Monday via email. “We’re very concerned. The tea party grassroots have always feared that Gov. Romney would be a weak standard bearer because of RomneyCare. This choice only reinforces those doubts. Tapping a high-profile ObamaCare profiteer is disturbing, there’s no way around it. … The tea party has been fighting exchanges in state after state.”
Michael Cannon, who directs health policy for the libertarian Cato Institute, reacted to the Leavitt choice in a blog post he penned: “Romney’s appointment of Leavitt is a first step toward flip-flopping — or Etch-a-Sketching, or Romneying(TM), or whatever — on ObamaCare repeal.”
The selection has since earned coverage by conservative media outlets like National Review and Weekly Standard, which highlighted Leavitt’s support for the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
The Romney campaign didn’t comment for this article but has been attentive to the right’s concerns. Spokeswoman Andrea Saul assured National Review and the Daily Caller that the buck stops with Romney and said he remains as committed as ever to repealing “Obamacare.”
There’s a deeper irony to the conservative gripes with Leavitt. The idea of insurance market exchanges is rooted in conservative thinking and continues to be embraced by the right in different contexts. Under Republican leadership, Utah enacted state exchanges in 2005. Today, the Paul Ryan budget that congressional Republicans — and Romney — strongly support would transform Medicare into an insurance exchange similar in structure to “Obamacare.”
For Romney, the danger is that his enactment of a health care reform law in Massachusetts that’s virtually identical to “Obamacare” has conservatives routinely questioning his commitment to repealing the law they detest. More broadly, his history as a moderate forces him to work doubly hard to close any potential rifts with the right, which he has shown an eagerness to do even after securing the Republican nomination.
Ben Domenech — co-founder of the conservative blog RedState, think tank fellow, and former HHS staffer — fueled the right’s misgivings by attacking the pick in tweets and blog posts.
[C]onservatives and libertarians are right to be concerned. Personnel is policy, after all,” Domenech told TPM in an email. “What’s more concerning is the role Leavitt may play in determining policy going forward. Perhaps the biggest policy question facing Mitt Romney should he become president will be the replacement of President Obama’s health care law.”