POMPANO BEACH, Florida — Although Rep. Allen West (R-FL) ran for Congress on a platform of completely scrapping Obamacare, he praised a number of its key provisions on Tuesday, putting him at odds with many House Republicans leading the repeal effort.
In an interview with ThinkProgress, West pointed to three popular provisions of the health care law that he would like to see preserved: allowing parents to keep children on their health insurance plans until 26, ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions aren’t denied insurance, and closing Medicare’s prescription drug donut hole:
KEYES: Say we repeal [Obamacare] tomorrow. Do you think that will then precipitate a drop in insurance premiums?
WEST: Well you’ve got to replace it. You’ve got to replace it with something. If people want to keep their kid on their insurance at 26, fine. We’ve got to make sure no American gets turned back for pre-existing conditions, that’s fine. Keep the donut hole closed, that’s fine. But what I just talked to you about, maybe 20, 25 pages of legislation.
The problem with West’s reasoning is that the pre-existing condition ban can’t function without an individual mandate or some other mechanism for bringing healthy people into the health care system. Without the individual responsibility provision, a death spiral begins whereby only sick people buy insurance and it soon becomes unaffordable for everybody. As the American Prospect’s Pat Caldwell writes, “the preexisting condition ban and the individual mandate are inseparably tied to one another.”
Still, West’s embrace of a few key parts of the Obamacare law puts him to the left of many of his Republican colleagues. As Politico reports, infighting has now broken out among Republicans between hard-liners who favor full repeal and lawmakers like West, who like some parts of the law. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who is perhaps the man most responsible for Republicans coalescing around the full repeal effort, has long maintained that every piece of Obamacare needs to be scrapped, including the donut hole coverage. “There will always be those who slip through the cracks,” King explained last year.
West isn’t the only Republican in Congress who voted last year to fully repeal Obamacare but now wants to protect some of the health care law’s popular provisions. Salon notes that Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) defended the provision allowing children up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance.