The GOP presidential candidates engaged in a heated six-and-a-half minute exchange about health care reform during Tuesday night’s CNN debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. Without offering any original solutions to the health care crisis — save the typical talking points of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety and allowing individuals and families to purchase coverage in the unregulated individual health insurance market — or explaining how they would deal with the coverage loss and deficit hole that undoing the law would leave behind, the candidates went after each other for supporting elements of President Obama’s health care reform law. So who was wrong and who was right? Below is a video of the GOP’s top six health care myths and the facts that undermine their claims:
– CLAIM 1 FROM SANTORUM TO ROMNEY: “Your plan was the basis for Obamacare. Your consultants helped Obama craft Obamacare.” FACT: Several consultants who worked with Romney also advised President Obama’s health care reform efforts, holding as many as a dozen meetings with White House officials in 2009. Obama initially resisted the individual mandate as a candidate — Romneycare’s central tenet — but endorsed the provision at the urging of former Director of the White House Office of Health Care Reform Nancy-Anne DeParle, who argued that “Obama should embrace a plan much like that in Massachusetts, driven by the teeth of a mandate,” Ron Suskind writes in his new book Confidence Men.
- CLAIM 2 FROM ROMNEY: “I was asked, is this something you would have the whole nation do? And I said no. This was something that was crafted in Massachusetts.” FACT: Before running for the presidency in 2008, Romney repeatedly suggested that his plan for expanding coverage should apply to the nation. As he told Newsweek in 2007, “I’m proud of what we’ve done. If Massachusetts succeeds in implementing it, then that will be a model for the nation.” As he wrote in the hardcover version of his book No Apology, “We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting the government take over health care.” That sentence was omitted from the paperback edition.
- CLAIM 3 FROM SANTORUM: “The governor of Massachusetts is coming forward saying we have to pick up the job left undone by Romneycare, which is doing something about cutting health care costs. What you did is exactly what Barack Obama did, focused on the wrong problem.” FACT: Unlike the ACA, Romneycare expanded coverage, but did not tackle health care costs. As a result, the Massachusetts legislature is now “producing bills that would make Massachusetts the first state — again — to radically revamp the way doctors, hospitals and other health providers are paid.” As Romney himself admitted, “It’s absolutely right that there’s a lot that needs to be done — and I didn’t get the job done in Massachusetts — and getting the healthcare costs down in this country is something I think we’ve got to do at the national level, and I intend to do that.”
- CLAIM 4 FROM GINGRICH: Romneycare “couldn’t have been done by any other state, because no other state had a Medicaid program as lavish as yours and no other state got as much money from the Bush administration for this experiment.” FACT: Romneycare relied on a waiver from the federal government to finance half of its coverage expansion. Romney said as much last April, when he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, “Actually, from the beginning the plan was a 50/50 deal between the federal government and the state government. The feds fund half of it, they have from the very beginning.” At the signing ceremony for the law, Romney credited the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) for securing the deal, calling him a “parent” of health care reform.
- CLAIM 5 FROM ROMNEY TO GINGRICH: “Actually Newt, we got the idea of the individual mandate from you…and the Heritage Foundation.” FACT: “I absolutely did work with the Heritage Foundation against Hillarycare,” Gingrich conceded. Several other Republican senators — including Orrin Hatch (UT) and Chuck Grassley (IA) — also supported the individual mandate in an effort to defeat President Bill Clinton’s health care proposal.
- CLAIM 6 FROM BACHMANN: “Even the Obama administration chose to reject part of Obamacare when they tried to throw out the CLASS Act…when even the Obama administration wants to repeal this bill, I think we’re going to win this thing.” FACT: The administration has actually specifically come out against repealing CLASS, and as former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) admitted on Tuesday, the decision not to implement the program does not undermine the law as a whole. If anything, it only reinforces the case for an individual mandate.