Bush HHS Secretary and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) — who is strongly considering running for the Senate — appeared on ABC’s Top Line this afternoon and denied supporting portions of the Affordable Care Act, unequivocally stating, “I do not support Obamacare”:
KlEIN: President Obama himself was out there touting the support of fomrer HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, this is obviously something you know. Were you supportive of this when it made its way through Congress?
THOMPSON: No. I supported a bipartisan approach for health care. I did not support Obamacare. I’ve come out against Obamacare time and time again. In fact, I gave another speech against it in Chicago this past Friday evening. Obamacare is one of the problems facing Wisconsin and America’s economy. I do not support it. I support health care reform, I got my solutions and I will be articulating those if in fact I do become a candidate.
But the truth is far more complicated. In June, Thompson penned an editorial for the Huffington Post urging Republican governors to adopt the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, just months before he praised the law’s payment reform provisions. “The Affordable Care Act gives great discretion to the CMS Administrator to experiment with alternative payment systems. CMS has created an ‘innovation center’ and is looking for ideas,” Thompson wrote on April 20, 2011. In fact, he even tried to dissuade Republicans from repealing the measure, saying during an appearance on CNBC in November 2010, “When it’s all said and done, you’re not going to be able to repeal health care because President Obama is not going to sign it…And they don’t have enough votes to override a veto, so why push a cart uphill when you know it’s not going to be able to get to the top?”
Thompson’s steadfast support for the measure has even raised questions if he’s profiting from it. Currently out of government, Thompson is a partner for Akin/Gump, where he “focuses on developing solutions for clients in the health care industry, as well as for companies doing business in the public sector.” His clients potentially include America’s Health Insurance Plans — the powerful health insurance lobby — Aetna, and other sectors of the health care industry that may stand to benefit from the very exchange structure he’s advocating.