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Will the Republicans Please Make Up Their Minds About Health Care Reform?

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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.

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About Glenn Contrarian

White. Male. Raised in the deepest of the Deep South. Retired Navy. Strong Christian. Proud Liberal. Thus, Contrarian!
  • Clavos

    Baronius, I take your point. I don’t have a solution for that issue, but if we give that kind of power to Washington, we’ll never fix the problems, which are best solved at grass roots level — the local school boards and the parents.

  • Clavos

    Do you really think that schools would somehow get MORE money with which to afford more teachers so they could make class sizes smaller?

    Glenn, the money for the schools is state money, its source is property taxes.

    And the problem isn’t so much money as it is the crappy teacher corps we have. Yes, I know there are some good teachers out there, but by far, the majority of them suck, and because of the stranglehold the NEA and AFT have on the educational marketplace, the sucky ones can’t be fired — ask Michelle Rhee about that — better yet, go see the documentary, Waiting For Superman.

    I’ve known since I was in college myself that the schools of education are the refuge of the mediocre students who are unable to pass the requirements for degrees in medicine or engineering or even liberal arts.

    The homeschooling movement has exploded in recent years because of the mediocrity of American schools — even the best, such as those in Massachusetts or Minnesota, can’t hold a candle to Asian or European systems.

    And the problem isn’t money or class size — those are red herring issues thrown out by the aforementioned NEA and AFT. The problem is the teachers themselves — take away their protected status, start evaluating them and holding them responsible for student achievement; start firing the bums and paying the good ones more than the mediocre ones, and we’ll see a turnaround in short order. And all of these things are best accomplished by the school systems themselves, not by the clowns in Washington.

    Give the students vouchers so they can pick and choose their schools, which will reward the good schools and punish the bad ones, and again, watch how quickly they’ll improve.

  • Baronius

    Clavos – What do you think about national educational standards though? It seems to me that until we restore the value of the H.S. diploma, we’ll continue to short-change students and make it inadvisable for employers to hire people without college degrees. I don’t think something like that could be pulled off at a state level. I’m not talking about national program, but something like a national GED.

  • Yes, I know the patent response: the Republicans are to blame.

  • Since when is our country run efficiently?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I would rather see the DOE eradicated; education should be managed no higher than state level, otherwise I agree with you.

    Do you really think educational standards would rise across the country? Do you really think that schools would somehow get MORE money with which to afford more teachers so they could make class sizes smaller? Do you really think that red-state schools would suddenly begin having educational parity with blue-state schools?

    No, no, and no.

    You’re falling into the same trap as so many other conservatives – you don’t like the way something works, so instead of fixing it, you want to trash the whole department/system/law. Just like with the health reform law, where instead of keeping what’s very good about it and fixing what’s not good about it, Republicans just want to trash the whole doggone thing.

    And that’s not a very efficient way to run a country.

  • Clavos


    I would rather see the DOE eradicated; education should be managed no higher than state level, otherwise I agree with you.

    The further away from the end user government is, the more it abuses the citizens and screws up whatever it is it’s supposed to be managing.


    I originally said, as you quoted:

    but I can’t recall seeing you NOT support any Democrat action or idea since you landed on these pages

    And I stand by that assertion. All of your stances in #14 ARE Dem stances, even if Bam isn’t following them. I never called you an Obamabot (though others might have), but now that you bring it up, I definitely consider you to be a “Demobot.”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Clavos –

    I like Michelle Rhee, too. I’d really like to see her in charge of the federal Department of Education. It’d be nice to see someone with enough cojones to empower school districts to pay teachers a proper wage while empowering the districts to get rid of teachers who need to find a different career.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    but I can’t recall seeing you NOT support any Democrat action or idea since you landed on these pages.

    Then you didn’t see perhaps a year ago where I said that we need to get out of Afghanistan. And you didn’t see any of the several times I’ve posted – beginning with not long after Obama took office – that he is wrong for not allowing Bush and Cheney to be prosecuted for war crimes. And I sure as heck don’t like him letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy be extended – you of all people should know by now that I’ve been the most vocal proponent on BC for significantly HIGHER taxes for the wealthy and for corporations!

    But you don’t have to believe any of that – you can just go ahead thinking that I’m just another Obamabot….

  • Clavos

    And I bet Clavos voted for Rick Scott for governor.

    You lose. Didn’t vote for Sink, either; in the absence of an acceptable candidate, wrote myself in.

    I AM pleased by Scott’s appointment of Michelle Rhee, however.

  • Congratulations, Glenn, on an article that deftly shows how much of the GOP opposition to the health bill is based on reflex as opposed to reasoning. It’s a Democratic bill, so they’re agin’ it. Even if earlier they were for many of the ideas it contains.

    Grassley’s hypocrisy is laughable. Romney’s contradictions are hysterical.

    I also find Clavos’s dead-certainty about Frist’s motives questionable. HCA has made a shitload of money in the past, and in the present, and one assumes they would continue to in the future with or without the Obama reforms.

    Isn’t he in favor of capitalists making money? How is that prima facie evidence of corruption with regard to the reform bill? And wouldn’t Frist be better off just quietly enjoying his profits rather than making a very public statement that could easily turn embarrassing [if Clavos were right]? Easy accusation, no proof.

    And I bet Clavos voted for Rick Scott for governor.

  • Clavos

    …but it in no wise detracts from the point of my article.

    It detracts from your credibility for at least one reader — of that I’m positive…

  • Clavos

    it’s a mistake for you to assume that I support any law proposed by Democrats…

    Maybe so, Glenn, but I can’t recall seeing you NOT support any Democrat action or idea since you landed on these pages.

    And one more time: I am not a Republican, I am a conservative — the Republicans stopped being conservative years ago, they do not represent me and I don’t vote for them; if there isn’t a decent Libertarian candidate running I either abstain or, if I can, write in my own name.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    My first comment, in which I pointed out you slyly neglected to mention Frist’s connections to the medical industry

    Has it ever occurred to you that maybe I did NOT know about Frist’s connections to the medical industry? Nah. You’d rather believe that I was ‘slyly’ neglecting to point it out. FYI, that was something I simply didn’t know…but it in no wise detracts from the point of my article.

    Many of the Republican cognoscenti – including the one who is probably the strongest Republican candidate for 2012 – were FOR an individual mandate before they were against it…

    …and all your cynicism will not change that fact.

    And one more thing – it’s a mistake for you to assume that I support any law proposed by Democrats, just as I would be equally wrong to assume that you would support any law proposed by Republicans. You don’t, and neither do I.

  • Clavos

    Yes. My first comment, in which I pointed out you slyly neglected to mention Frist’s connections to the medical industry and the fact that he is in a very good position to profit enormously on a personal basis from Obamacare, which is a near certainty, given the government’s past track record with its administration of laws/programs designed for the “benefit” of the public.

    And if you really believe the hospitals caved in order to save their bottom lines, rather than they were given a quid pro quo to cooperate; a quid pro quo which will enrich them enormously, well, remember you heard it here first when, a couple of years from now, everyone begins to realize that the hated insurance companies and medical providers are getting even richer than they were before Obamacare, just as they did and are from Medicare and Medicaid, both of which were opposed mightily by everyone remotely connected with the medical biz.

    But you’re right,Glenn, I agree you’re probably not naive; more likely, you’re partisan enough to support any law proposed by Democrats, regardless of the probable outcome of the new legislation.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And one more thing, Clavos – has anything you’ve posted about Frist and HCA detracted one whit from the thrust of my article?


    The article’s not about Frist or HCA – it’s about how the Republicans were FOR the individual mandate before they were so indignantly against it…and how they simply don’t care what happens to the American people if the law is repealed, so long as they get back into the White House.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ah, you believe there’s always an angle, right? You believe that NOBODY would allow cuts to their own bottom line, right? And that’s precisely the cynicism that drives the conservative suspicion of government and business, right?

    Well, let’s look at what YOUR reference said:

    The accord marked the second time in less than a month that a major health-care industry agreed to cut into its own revenue as congressional negotiators try to bring down costs. Drugmakers announced June 21 they would spend $80 billion over 10 years, in part to help elderly Americans pay for medicines.

    Among other things, the industry agreed to cuts in government payments for charity care and to scale back annual increases used to account for inflation. Reduced payments from Medicare, the government program for the elderly, would make up $103 billion of the savings, according to a health-care lobbyist familiar with the negotiations.

    Yes, they DID take a cut in revenue, Clavos, to the tune of $155B over ten years. And why did they do it? Patriotism? Hardly. They did it because they were doing what they could to preserve as much of their bottom line as they could…just as so many unions agreed to pay and benefit cuts so that their people could stay employed. They saw the writing on the wall that health care reform was coming…and they also knew that the VAST majority of doctors and nurses who worked for them supported health care reform. You know, the doctors and nurses who actually DO the work in the field, who knew better than anyone the human cost of ‘business as usual’?

    Clavos, I agree that it’s the height of naivete to think that politicians and Big Business do things solely out of patriotism and the desire for the greater good…but would you not also agree that just as too much naivete leads us to be Pollyannas, too much cynicism leads us to be Scrooges who are unable to see when someone really is acting out of patriotism or idealism? Too much naivete is bad – and so is too much cynicism. Moderation in all things, Clavos.

  • Boeke

    The health insurance monopoly knows a Real Hedge Fund when they make one: Buy politicians on both sides of a healthcare issue.

  • Clavos


    Way back last summer HCA and other hospital entities suddenly reversed themselves and agreed, ostensibly, to accept up to $155 billion in cutbacks on government payments to them under Obamacare and support the prez in its passage.

    Are you really so naive as to think they did this out of patriotism or because they think Obamacare will be good for the country and the citizens? No, Glenn, there’s a quid pro quo in there somewhere, and it involves a substantial improvement to HCA’s bottom line when the dust settles.

    You can’t seriously believe Bill Frist (or any other politician) would support a bill that stands to injure him financially simply out of the goodness of his heart and a love for the country.

    Uh uh. He (they) stand to gain, and gain big from Obamacare, and they know it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Speaking of HCA, here’s a list of Medicare fraud cases against them. Maybe that’s why they were so supportive of Republicans – because Obama’s Health Reform Law includes significantly increased authority for Medicare and Medicaid to prevent and prosecute fraud. I guess they think it’s unAmerican that they might actually have to be held accountable for ripping off the American taxpayer….

    And on the same page I just found this little gem that shows exactly where the Republicans’ priorities lay back in 1993…and where they are now:

    Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent writes that the current Republican plan of “total obstructionism” towards the Obama administration’s economic policies echoes the Republicans’ 1993 efforts to defeat the Clinton administration’s health care program (see December 2, 1993). In 1993, Republican pundit William Kristol warned that if the health care plan were successful and indeed improved the lives of Americans, the damage to the Republican Party’s image and ideology would be severe. Therefore, even though, according to Sargent, the plan stood an excellent chance of improving the US health care system, it had to be defeated. Sargent writes that today’s Republican opposition to President Obama’s economic plans “echo… the strategic objectives Kristol articulated 15 years ago.”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ah, so that little factor nullifies everything that Grassley, Romney, and Frist pointed out? No? I didn’t think so.

    And exactly how is it that is HCA stands to ‘make a fortune from Obamacare’, that former HCA CEO Rick Scott (yes, the same one who is now governor of Florida AND who bailed just before HCA was fined for what was then the largest Medicare fraud in US history) came out so strongly against health care reform? You can check here and here to see how HCA seems to like Republican candidates…and they’ve a total dearth of support of Democrats.

    Gee, doesn’t sound to me like they think much of this health care reform that you claim would make them a fortune….

  • Clavos

    It would have been helpful if you had told your readers that Bill Frist’s father and brother founded Hospital Corporation of America, and that Frist himself owns tens of millions of dollars of stock in HCA, which stands to make a fortune from Obamacare.