At a town hall in Derry, NH this afternoon, GOP presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich admitted that the Affordable Care Act — which he seeks to repeal — has been successful in extending coverage to young people who would have otherwise gone uninsured.
Pressed by an attendee about reports that at least 600,000 young adults are now obtaining coverage through their parents’ plans until they turn 26 as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Gingrich conceded that the ACA does include 200 pages of effective provisions. He insisted, however, that Congress should first repeal the law and “take the 200 pages and pass them later”:
Q: I just read this morning in Forbes, I think, that over 600,000 people newly insured in the first quarter of just 2011 and most of those were young people who previously had no insurance. So I’m just wondering, what’s bad about that?
GINGRICH: Look, if you take a 2,800 page bill, you can find 200 pages that are okay. The other 2,600 are a disaster. And the parts that are okay, we can look at after we repeal Obamacare and we can decide whether or not to pass them as free-standing legislation. But I would always insist on passing the entire bill, because I don’t trust the Washington bureaucracy to tell us which part of the bill they’re going to repeal.
Q: But this is the largest health insurance companies reporting this in just the first quarter.
GINGRICH: That’s right. That particular piece there is nothing wrong with. I didn’t say there is anything wrong with that. I’m happy to concede out of 2,800 pages, at least 200 are good. But the bill overall is a disaster and we’re better off to take the 200 pages and pass them later, separately, having gotten rid of Obamacare.
At the event, Gingrich also laid out his own vision for health care, but did not specifically say that he would maintain the above dependent coverage provision or any other consumer protection.
Instead, Gingrich reiterated a “free-market approach” to health care that sounds a lot like Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) failed campaign health care proposal. He promised to equalize the tax treatment of employer and non-group plans and provide tax credits for individuals and families to buy insurance on the individual market. Gingrich would allow employers to buy individual insurance for their workers “instead of non-portable group insurance” and “extend health savings accounts throughout the health care system.” Everyone in Medicare, Medicaid, and employer-sponsored coverage “should be able to choose a health care savings account as part of their coverage, if the want it,” he said.