Health care will likely be a contentious issue far beyond 2012, as continued increases in medical care and pharmaceuticals abound, and insurance and Medicare/Medicaid costs continue to rise. The solution to this problem is far from simple, and will have to include changes to all of its various aspects to be acceptable the American people.
For reference, here is the summary of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, useful since it is the focus of most of the candidate’s health care platforms. This site has an overview of the candidate’s stances on health care, although its neutrality may be in question. Below I will define my understanding of the positions of each GOP candidate with regard to health care, Medicare, and Medicaid, and provide links to interesting sites. The mini profiles are in alphabetical order, no bias is implied or intended.
Michele Bachmann claims to have the longest business career, having started at age 5 (see quote here), but that’s not really pertinent to the issues. She has been rather staunch in her opposition to “Obamacare,” claiming that both the Gingrich and Romney plans are too close to the president’s plan. She seems fuzzy on the cost of the president’s plan; although the author of this article may not have realized that it could have been hyperbole, or not. Her proposed H.R. 502, Health Care Freedom of Choice Act, would make premiums 100 percent deductible, expand HAS/FSA, and include allowances for small businesses to band together for better insurance rates. This plan and other topics are discussed on her house.gov page.
If we consider Romney to be a flip-flopper, then Newt Gingrich must look like a Mexican jumping bean. His history of support for a federally mandated plan goes back, at least, to 2005 when he partnered with Hillary Clinton on a bipartisan reform plan, and by 2008 he said that it was, “fundamentally immoral for a person to go without coverage, show up at an emergency room and demand care.” In his 2005 book Winning the Future, Newt said, “You have the right to be part of the lowest-cost insurance pool and you have a responsibility to buy insurance. …a 21st century intelligent system requires everyone to participate in the insurance system.” Gingrich claims that during his term as speaker, major reforms then “saved Medicare from bankruptcy,” but they apparently did not do the job right. When the House voted on the Ryan plan earlier this year all but four Republicans voted in favor of passing it; Newt called this “right-wing social engineering” and denounced it, but at other times he has endorsed at least parts of this plan.
Jon Huntsman Jr. is against having any form of mandated coverage now, in Utah anyway, but apparently did support one in 2007 as part of a United Way plan. At that time he said, “I wouldn’t shy away from mandates. I think if you’re going to get it done and get it done right, a mandate has to be part of it in some way, shape, or form,” especially as pertains to children as noted in this link. Depending on which way he is currently flopped, he wants states to experiment and find the best solution, except probably Utah. Another area in which he differs from the others is in a plan to streamline the FDA to lower drug-to-market costs, which he seems to be working on with the UCSF chancellor. Here is a little more about his plan, which, although light on detail, does give some of his thoughts.
The fact that the U.S. Constitution does not mention Medicare is not lost on Ron Paul, although the comment about general welfare could pertain (or was that the Declaration?). At any rate, he is against federal meddling in state affairs, such as with healthcare. Ron partly blames “government enforced monopolies” (HMOs and Pharmaceutical companies) for much of the problem, followed by the FDA. In his opinion the only solution is to let the free market competition select the best providers. It could be, that as a doctor, he has better insight into this problem than other candidates, but he was an ob-gyn, does that count? Here are some questions answered by Ron, as well as some of his voting record on healthcare.