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‘Obamacare’ Was Originally Proposed By Republicans

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With the Affordable Care Act’s first big test starting Tuesday, and the Republican push to repeal the act due largely to their claims of the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate, it seems appropriate to note the history surrounding the controversial issue. The substantial amount of contrarianism that has occurred in the past two decades is nothing short of astounding.

The fact that the individual mandate has deep Republican roots cannot be denied.The idea of an individual mandate replacing the single-payer health care system was proposed in 1989 by the conservative Heritage Foundation and was published in a paper titled, “A National Health System for America.”

In the paper, the Heritage Foundation’s director of domestic policy strategies, Stuart M. Butler, proposed that “every resident of the U.S. must, by law, be enrolled in an adequate health care plan to cover major health care costs.”

The proposal was backed by a large number of Republican politicians and was strikingly similar to the Affordable Care Act signed by Obama in 2010, which was admittedly influenced by Heritage’s proposal.

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman noted this fact on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sunday:

It should be noted that President George H.W. Bush supported the individual mandate and even before this, both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan supported various universal health care mandates.

By the time Bill Clinton was preparing his health care reform in 1993, many Republicans who backed the alternative individual mandate approach claimed it was a “personal responsibility” to have health care.

Former Republican Senator John Chafee formally introduced the proposal in a 1993 bill titled, “Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993,” which had 20 Republican co-sponsors and included an individual mandate and vouchers for lower income individuals.

A few Republicans who co-sponsored the 1993 Republican individual mandate bill, but more recently opposed Obama’s Affordable Care Act include: Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, along with former Senators Robert Bennet, Christopher Bond, and Richard Lugar.

And in 1994, another Republican bill, titled the “Consumer Choice Health Security Act of 1994,” initially included an individual mandate.

Republicans who co-sponsored the 1994 bill, but now oppose the Affordable Care Act include: Senators Dan Coats, Charles Grassley, Orrin Hatch, and former Senators Robert Bennett, Judd Gregg, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Richard Lugar.

Senator John McCain once supported the individual mandate as well, when in the early 1990s he made a speech proposing the individual mandate as a counter to the health care reform Bill Clinton was proposing, according to the Miami Herald.

obamacare-cartoon-2-aAnd former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich worked with the Heritage Foundation on the individual mandate before changing his stance on the issue in 2011. Former Governor Mitt Romney also once supported a nationwide individual mandate, and got the idea for his Massachusetts health care reform from Newt Gingrich, but he also changed his stance on the issue during his 2012 presidential run.

But the Republicans are not the only ones to flip on the individual mandate. Even President Obama opposed the idea while he was running for president against Hillary Clinton and up until six months into his first term.

No concerns over the constitutionality of an individual mandate were raised by Republicans, that is, until Democrats began catering the idea. Most Republicans now claim that the idea of requiring every American to buy health insurance is the worst part of the Democratic health care agenda.

While it’s certainly possible for someone to legitimately change their mind on an issue, it also seems likely that the amount of flip-flopping is due to nothing more than political posturing by both sides to gain an edge over the other.

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