How refreshing that Republicans were talking about health care! The issue was virtually ignored in the 2008 GOP primaries, and we suffered the consequences when Democrats took over and rammed Obamacare into law.
The candidates had quite a brawl over Romneycare during the debate. All of them agreed without qualification that Obamacare must be repealed, but that was where the agreement ended.
Former senator Rick Santorum is absolutely right that Romney provided the model for Obamacare and that both plans expanded coverage without tackling the crucial problem of rising health costs. Romney answered that he understands “how to bring costs down.” Santorum shot back: “But you didn’t do it!”
Cain and Paul both had the correct focus: We need a patient-centered system that uses market forces and competition to get costs down.
Gingrich brought new information to the debate, quoting a Boston Herald report about a small business in Massachusetts that was fined $3,000 because it didn’t provide the level of health insurance that Massachusetts mandates.
That clearly shows that Romney is wrong when he claims his plan impacted only the 8 percent of Bay Staters who were uninsured. The employer mandate affects all but the smallest businesses in Massachusetts, the same as Obamacare. The individual mandate in Massachusetts affects everyone, and anyone who wants to get out of it must make a special plea to the government — just as will be the case with Obamacare. And everyone is impacted by the high costs of health care and coverage that result from the oppressively bureaucratic, rule-driven government-domination of health care that both plans dictate.
Romney tried to deflect attention from his support of the individual mandate by saying that Gingrich supported a mandate himself as part of the plan that the Heritage Foundation offered in the early 1990s as an alternative to Hillarycare.
But Romney still seems to believe a mandate is important: “If people have the capacity to pay their own way, they should,” he again repeated tonight. Unless the Supreme Court declares the federal mandate unconstitutional, GOP voters will need better assurances than they have received so far from Romney that he will protect the rest of the country from his Massachusetts-style mandate.
Posted on National Review Online: The Corner, October 18, 2011.