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December 27, 2011

Gingrich in 2006: I Agree 100% With RomneyCare

Make it stop.

“We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans,” Gingrich wrote in 2006.

And, Gingrich wrote, the key to achieving that goal was doing what Romney did in Massachusetts: Requiring everybody who could afford it to buy health insurance. In fact, Gingrich makes an impassioned case for the so-called individual mandate — which is also at the center of President Obama’s health plan — on conservative grounds.

“We also believe strongly that personal responsibility is vital to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System,” Gingrich wrote in the memo which was found on an old Gingrich website by BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski. ”Individuals who can afford to purchase health insurance and simply choose not to place an unnecessary burden on a system that is on the verge of collapse; these free-riders undermine the entire health system by placing the onus of responsibility on taxpayers.”

That's ABCNews' characterization, but a comparison with the actual document shows it's ballpark accurate. Newt does not endorse the RomneyCare plan entirely; he does have some objections:

The most exciting development of the past few weeks is what has been happening up in Massachusetts. The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system.

We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100% insurance coverage for all Americans. Individuals without coverage often do not receive quality medical attention on par with those who do have insurance. We also believe strongly that personal responsibility is vital to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System. Individuals who can afford to purchase health insurance and simply choose not to place an unnecessary burden on a system that is on the verge of collapse; these free-riders undermine the entire health system by placing the onus of responsibility on taxpayers.

The Romney plan attempts to bring everyone into the system. The individual mandate requires those who earn enough to afford insurance to purchase coverage, and subsidies will be made available to those individuals who cannot afford insurance on their own. We agree strongly with this principle, but the details are crucial when it comes to the structure of this plan. Under the new bill, Massachusetts residents earning more than 300% of the federal poverty level (approximately $30,000 for an individual) will not be eligible for any subsidies. State House officials had originally promised that there would be new plans available at about $200 a month, but industry experts are now predicting that the cheapest plan will likely cost at least $325 a month. This estimate totals about $4000 per year, or about 1/5 of a $30,000 annual take-home income.

While in theory the plan should be affordable if the whole state contributes to the cost, the reality is that Massachusetts has an exhaustive list of health coverage regulations prohibiting insurers from offering more basic, pared-down policies with higher deductibles. (This is yet another reminder that America must establish a cross-state insurance market that gives individuals the freedom to shop for insurance plans in states other than their own.)

In our estimation, Massachusetts residents earning little more than $30,000 a year are in jeopardy of being priced out of the system. In the event that this occurs, Governor Romney will be in grave danger of repeating the mistakes of his predecessor, Mike Dukakis, whose 1988 health plan was hailed as a save-all but eventually collapsed when poorly-devised payment structures created a malaise of unfulfilled promises. We propose that a more realistic approach might be to limit the mandate to those individuals earning upwards of $54,000 per year.

So he objects to the liberal goal of forcing poorer people to buy expensive policies that are typically given to middle-class and upper-income earners in lieu of pay, and urges pared-down policies, and cross-state insurance.

But he also suggests that only those making $54,000 per year and up be forced to buy health insurance. Even as he agrees with the goal of 100% insurance coverage and the individual mandate itself. Such folks would continue to get health care paid for by the state, I imagine, or have the state issue them a policy, gratis.

Gingrich has a novel explanation for this newsletter which speaks with the pronouns "we" and "I:" Someone else wrote it.

Mr. Hammond said the Newt Notes essay wasn’t written by Mr. Gingrich himself.

I realize the "heartless" comment was offensive and stung people emotionally. But we're not nominating a Best Friend here, for crying out loud.

But since "heartless" is enough to make half the party collectively say "Oh no he di'n't," I guess Perry is done for. If we're going to have a nominee who supported RomneyCare either way, I'm not sure what we gain with Newt. He has a great deal of baggage. Romney's kind of dick and seems to have little sense of people, nevermind conservatives, but on paper he's... well he's something. Not sure what.



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posted by Ace at 10:37 AM

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