Republican Senate Candidate Can’t Decide If He’ll Repeal Obamacare

Tommy Thompson, the Republican senate candidate in Wisconsin, couldn’t decide if he supports maintaing provisions of the Affordable Care Act, during a debate against challenger Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) on Friday. Responding to a question about health care reform, the former governor and Health and Human Services secretary insisted that the entire law should be gutted, but seconds later admitted that certain provisions “absolutely need to be maintained”:

QUESTION: Governor, just so we’re clear. There is nothing in the Affordable Care Act right now that’s worth maintaining?

THOMPSON: No, no. Right now, the Affordable Care Act has 20 taxes increases. We got to do away with the Affordable Care Act and then we can put in things like making sure that individuals could be covered … But there are things in there like wellness and prevention, Bob, that I drafted when I was Secretary that are in the Affordable Care Act that absolutely need to be maintained. Chronic illnesses is something I started when I was Secretary of Health. That’s got to be maintained and be able to continue.

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Thompson’s contradictory views on reform have haunted his campaign. As a lobbyist for health care interests, Thompson “was very helpful in implementation,” to the Obama administration and even urged Republican governors to adopt the law’s health insurance exchanges.

Last April, he lauded Obamacare’s payment reform provisions, saying they give “great discretion” for exermination with “alternative payment systems.” He even tried to dissuade the GOP from repealing the measure, telling 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 senate campaign website now lists “repealing Obamacare and replacing it with market-based solutions” among his top legislative priorities.