Progressive Taking Points Memo:
Obamacare Is Really A Conservative Idea???
No, it’s not. Not even close.
After hearing for the umpteenth time that Obamacare was really a conservative initiative, I did a little research and found the original 1989 Heritage Foundation document. There was a household individual mandate involved…for catastrophic (high deductible major medical) insurance, which Heritage has since repudiated. Certain Republicans (Newt) also used points from this lecture during the Hillarycare debate. I’m not sure if this lecture ever represented official Heritage Foundation policy, there is a disclaimer which seems to suggest otherwise. The truth is that this outline has nothing in common with Obamacare today. The often heard progressive talking point is that Obamacare and the individual mandate is originally a conservative concept simply isn’t true. Most of the ideas put forth in the old Heritage plan reinforced individual choice and free market concepts, which are totally missing in Obamacare.
Here is the last concluding paragraph from the 1989 document:
A CONSUMER-BASED SYSTEM
All of these measures, from the basic tax treatment of health care to the encouragement of long-term care insurance, would introduce a far greater degree of consumer activism into the health care market. This strategy, combined with a requirement for basic health coverage and the focusing of government assistance to those who need it most, would change the foundations of health care in America. Rather than the current system with its built-in inflation and enormous gaps in coverage, the result would be a system providing not only coverage to all but also a powerful set of incentives for the health care industry to be as efficient and consumer sensitive as possible.
Heritage filed an Amicus Brief opposing the individual mandate as envisioned by Obamacare. Here is a quote from the Friend of the Court Brief:
“Heritage policy experts never supported an unqualified mandate like that in the PPACA [ObamaCare]. Their prior support for a qualified mandate was limited to catastrophic coverage (true insurance that is precisely what the PPACA forbids), coupled with tax relief for all families and other reforms that are conspicuously absent from the PPACA. Since then, a growing body of research has provided a strong basis to conclude that any government insurance mandate is not only unnecessary, but is a bad policy option. Moreover, Heritage’s legal scholars have been consistent in explaining that the type of mandate in the PPACA is unconstitutional.”
More background here:
How the Heritage Foundation, a Conservative Think Tank, Promoted the Individual Mandate
Optical Character Recognition enabled (OCR) PDF here:
1989 Heritage Health Care OCR