Jon Huntsman walked back his support for repealing the Affordable Care Act during a campaign event in Lebanon, New Hampshire yesterday, promising a more “careful assessed approach,” the Union Leader reports:
When asked about Obamacare, Huntsman said he has not promised to repeal the health care law like many of his primary contenders, but said he would take a balanced approach to the bill. Good measures in the bill such as coverage for people with pre-existing conditions or allowing young adults to stay on their parents plan up to a certain age should stay in place, along with other good measures in the bill if possible, he said. He added the Supreme Court has yet to rule whether or not the bill is constitutional, he said.
“Let’s take a careful assessed approach,” he said. “As president I think my inclination would be to call together the fifty governors together, cause many of the governors have worked on various aspects of healthcare reform. … We’ve got to start with cost containment and transparency,” he said.
Huntsman has previously backed eliminating the law entirely, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in May 2011, “If I had a chance to repeal it, I would. But then you have to say what goes in its place, and I think the answer to that is look at what all the states are doing.” This afternoon, campaign spokesperson Tim Miller clarified that the candidate “supports the repeal of Obamacare and would assess reinstating certain provisions once repealed.”
In 2007, the former Utah governor introduced a reform plan that closely resembles the health care law. The proposal “called for providing subsidies to help Utahns who didn’t qualify for government programs and requiring insurance companies to take all comers without charging higher premiums based on medical history. Taking a page from Massachusetts, Huntsman also sought to build a health exchange…[and] called for everyone to get insurance or face penalties.” Huntsman did establish the exchange, which is similar to the state-based marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. He ultimately abandoned his larger version of reform (after it stopped being politically feasible) and his “goal of halving the state’s ranks of uninsured.” At the end of his term, “The state’s uninsured rate remained steady at 11 percent in 2010, meaning 300,000 Utahns went without coverage.”