We have Republicans who were for the health care reform individual mandate before they were against it, such as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who as recently as June 2009 said, “But when it comes to states requiring it for automobile insurance, the principle then ought to lie the same way for health insurance. Because everybody has some health insurance costs, and if you aren’t insured, there’s no free lunch. Somebody else is paying for it … I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates.”
TAANSTAFL : There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch! But right now, since there’s currently no individual mandate until it takes effect, people are getting that free lunch. Is that really what the Republicans think is better? Is it better to give essentially free health care to those who can’t (or won’t) pay for it than it is to ensure that everyone does pay their fair share for the health care that they will sooner or later have?
We have Republicans who were for the individual mandate before they were against it, and still are sometimes for it, such as Mitt Romney, who stated last March
I know some people say, gee, your Massachusetts health care plan isn’t conservative. I say oh, yes it is. Because right now in this country, people that don’t have health insurance go to the hospital if they get a serious illness, and they get treated for free by government. My plan says no, they can’t do that. No more free riders. People have to take personal responsibility. I consider it a conservative plan.
Can anyone seriously disagree with Romney’s description of the reason for the individual mandate? After all, everyone needs health care sooner or later. And we have Republicans who think that we should keep the “job-killing” health care reform law. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist had this to say:
It is not the bill that [Republicans] would have written. It is not the bill that I would have drafted. But it is the law of the land and it is the platform, the fundamental platform, upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based. And that is a fact. I know the discussion of Washington is repeal and I’m sure we will come back to that discussion
” … [The bill] has many strong elements,” Frist added later, “And those elements, whatever happens, need to be preserved, need to be cuddled, need to be snuggled, need to be promoted and need to be implemented. But how do you do it? How do you do a lot of what is in this law?”
The last sentence is the most pertinent. Exactly how can we do a lot of what is in this law? The Republicans want to repeal and replace, but where is the replace part of their plan? How do the Republicans intend to ensure access to health care for more than thirty million currently uninsured American citizens, improve the coverage for tens of millions more under-insured American citizens, close the infamous “donut hole” created by the Bush administration’s Medicare Part D, stop the health insurance industry from denying care based on preexisting conditions, ensure that preventative care is available for all, and provide for increased protection against Medicare fraud?
That’s precisely Bill Frist’s argument: that there are many very, very good elements within the law, and to repeal the entire law en masse would be equivalent to throwing out the baby with the bath water. His point, and Obama’s, is that Congress should improve upon the existing law rather than just chuck it out the window. If Congress wants to get rid of the individual mandate, fine, but if they do so, then the remainder of the law, the many great benefits therein to which the former Republican Senate Majority Leader referred, will fall.
For those who are somehow still unfamiliar with the wide range of benefits for all Americans contained within the law, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a very good site describing the benefits including a timeline for their implementation.
What will happen if the law is somehow repealed or nullified?
- Tens of millions of Americans will continue to have no health insurance.
- Tens of millions more Americans who do have health insurance can be dropped without warning by the health insurance industry (the top four health insurance companies denied an average of one out of seven claims from 2007 to 2009.
- The ‘donut hole’ will continue unabated.
Get the picture? And there is no, repeat no, current viable Republican plan with which to replace the law. But that’s not really the concern of the Republicans, is it? Their number one priority is not strict adherence to the Constitution or the general welfare of the American people, their number one priority, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed out, is to make President Obama a “one-term president”. To the Republicans, all other problems that face the American people pale in comparison to that one goal: to stop Obama and take back the White House in 2012, because they know that if President Obama is successful in improving the lives of the American people, the voters will keep that in mind come election day. That, people, is the all-encompassing fear that truly drives the Republican opposition to Obamacare.