The Democrats were on the verge of passing health care legislation by reconciling the differences between the House and Senate bills before they were shocked by the loss of Ted Kennedy’s old seat in Massachusetts. The White House is now working on such a compromise health care reform proposal. Of course the Republicans will attack regardless of what they do, even if the proposal is similar to what Republicans have supported in the past.
I have previously noted how Republicans supported the individual mandate until they saw political benefit in coming out against mandates. NPR’s Morning Edition had a report today which discussed how similar the current plan is to the alternative which Republicans offered to the Clinton plan in 1993:
…while President Clinton was pushing for employers to cover their workers in his 1993 bill, John Chafee of Rhode Island, along with 20 other GOP senators and Rep. Bill Thomas of California, introduced legislation that instead featured an individual mandate. Four of those Republican co-sponsors — Hatch, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Robert Bennett of Utah and Christopher Bond of Missouri — remain in the Senate today.
The GOP’s 1993 measure included some features Republicans still want Democrats to consider, including damage award caps for medical malpractice lawsuits.
But the summary of the Republican bill from the Clinton era and the Democratic bills that passed the House and Senate over the past few months are startlingly alike.
Beyond the requirement that everyone have insurance, both call for purchasing pools and standardized insurance plans. Both call for a ban on insurers denying coverage or raising premiums because a person has been sick in the past. Both even call for increased federal research into the effectiveness of medical treatments — something else that used to have strong bipartisan support, but that Republicans have been backing away from recently.
Republicans are also being contradictory in both demanding that the health care proposal be posted on line and in attacking the Democrats for agreeing to post their proposal on line seventy-two hours before the planned health care summit. The Party of No will object to anything–even their own demands.