The ACP Advocate Blog

by Bob Doherty

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Is Obama Care really a GOP plan in sheep’s clothing?

One of the difficulties in sorting through the points and counterpoints on health care reform is that that many of the critics use sweeping statements to characterize the new law, saying that it is "government-run" health care or "socialized medicine." Proponents of the law then find themselves essentially responding "no it's not. . ." or trying to defend government at a time when confidence in it is at an historic low.

An op-ed today in the Washington Post by Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative- and Republican-leaning American Enterprise Institute, argues that if one actually looks at the specific elements of the new health reform law, "ObamaCare" is in line with ideas long-championed by Republicans:

"To one outside the partisan and ideological wars, charges of radicalism, socialism, retreat and surrender are, frankly, bizarre. The Democrats' health-reform plan includes no public option and relies on managed competition through exchanges set up much like those for federal employees. The individual mandate in the plan sprang from a Heritage Foundation idea that was endorsed years ago by a range of conservatives and provided the backbone of the Massachusetts plan that was crafted and, until recently, heartily defended by Mitt Romney. It would be fair to describe the new act as Romneycare crossed with the managed-competition bill proposed in 1994 by Republican Sens. John Chafee, David Durenberger, Charles Grassley and Bob Dole -- in other words, as a moderate Republican plan. Among its supporters is Durenberger, no one's idea of a radical socialist."

(Ornstein has a broader point to make about how Obama's policies have been labeled, but I'm not going there.)

I wish we could get the point where the debate on health care is about what is actually in the legislation, instead of rehashing broad characterizations that are intended to invoke an emotional response of support or opposition, instead informed debate about what the legislation does and does not do.

Today's question: What do you think of Ornstein's argument?

4 Comments :

Blogger Jerry M said...

Although Norman Ornstein writes for a conservative leaning organization his writings always favor liberal ideas and tend to agree with the Democrats. He is generally considered a liberal. He skillfully points out small areas of agreement by Republicans with some areas of the massive Health reform bill, making it appear as though they’re in total agreement. You were objecting to broad generalizations. That is exactly what Norman is doing. The Devil is in the details that are still sadly lacking.

April 14, 2010 at 11:18 PM  
OpenID nostrums said...

Comparison between Democrats and Republicans, now and in past decades, without recognizing that party ideologies slide back and forth, creates a false analogy. In the sixties when I was in college, both parties espoused a liberal-leaning view of how government would evolve over time. That paradigm is no longer present. Also, insisting that the health care exchanges are competitive tools ignores two things: (1) As a physician in the federal system for 30 years, I learned that the government never fosters competition, it eliminates it through the power to leverage additional tax revenue and print money: something companies cannot do, (2) the President was openly a single-payer advocate in 2007, and has recently told his party's caucus that this is a "first step." I think the plan is pretty clear.

April 15, 2010 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Steve Lucas said...

I really do not think much of Ornstein's arguments. Raising the specter of race, Fox news, and talk radio proves nothing and he offers no concrete point by point explanation of how the current legislation is Republican orientated.

He further tries to tie the auto take over and financial regulation to health care, and the yet to be realized divesture of government ownership of GM, as proof this will all turn out just peachy keen. We are still waiting for this to occur.

Mitt Romney, in a Fox interview, stated the Mass. Plan always had a 50% Federal co-pay and was never intended to be self sufficient. Maybe he is trying to reinvent history, but this changes the cost analysis.

What is most concerning to me is the recent CBO statement that current Federal spending cannot be maintained. Hearings in the House are focused on budget reductions. This is what will change the health care debate.

Nobody is dealing with the legal debate. The most interesting legal point I have heard made is that the Federal government does not regulate health insurance; this is a State function, so they cannot extend their regulatory authority to a personal mandate, or the creation of exchanges.

Additionally, Medicaid is a State run program. How will the current proposed regulations change that relationship with the federal government?

Injecting race, Fox news, and talk radio into the health care debate only proves a lack of ability. I for one am not interested in a “smart guy” attempt at short circuiting the debate.

Steve Lucas

April 15, 2010 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger tpaine1776 said...

What a farce. Any 'reform' that does not adddress tort reform is not reform. As cong Dingell was quoted after the bill passed "...to control the people.", that is indeed what this process was all about, very little had to do with true reform of the health care system, but most of it was designed to control as many people as possible and place them under government regulations. The Devil is indeed in the details most of which were hidden from view until after the bill was passed. Now the ACP is concerned about the IPAB??? The ACP totally missed the boat on this one. The tenured academics who dominate the leadership positions of this organization, and who are most likely liberal leaning in their personal politics, have little to no regard for those of us in private prasctice who are struggling to survive in this environment(and who dont want to have to give Botox to have to survive.

April 16, 2010 at 11:19 AM  

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About the Author

Bob Doherty is Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians Government Affairs and Public Policy; Author of the ACP Advocate Blog

Email Bob Doherty: TheACPAdvocateblog@acponline.org.

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