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Are Republican Governors as Committed to Repeal as the House?

2:00 PM, Mar 3, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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But here’s what the CBO really had to say about Obamacare’s effect on health costs:  “[T]he average premium per person covered (including dependents) for new nongroup policies would be about 10 percent to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the average premium for nongroup coverage in that same year under current [pre-Obamacare] law….Average premiums per policy in the nongroup market in 2016 would be roughly $5,800 for single policies and $15,200 for family policies under the proposal, compared with roughly $5,500 for single policies and $13,100 for family policies under current [pre-Obamacare] law.” 

And here’s what Obama’s own Medicare chief actuary has had to say about Obamacare’s effect on health costs, in relation to pre-Obamacare law, from 2010 to 2019:  “[W]e estimate that overall national health expenditures under the health reform act would increase by a total of $311 billion.”

Obama proceeded to praise Mitt Romney’s efforts in Massachusetts.  And then, in the wake of having used every heavy-handed trick in the book to ram through highly unpopular legislation that would do more to centralize and consolidate power in Washington than any other piece of legislation in our nation’s history, he actually said this: “You see, part of the genius of our Founders was the establishment of a federal system in which each of our states serves as a laboratory for our democracy.”  The word “shameless” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Yuval Levin writes that Obama’s proposal “allows no flexibility regarding ends, and therefore very little flexibility regarding means.  In fact, while it would allow conservative-leaning governors essentially no freedom to move in the direction of greater competition and more consumer-driven health care (which conservatives tend to see as the actual path to reducing costs and therefore insuring more people while improving quality) it would give liberal-leaning governors significant freedom to move in the direction of more government control.”

Supporting that contention, the Washington Post writes, “In Vermont, Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, is exploring the idea of using a waiver to create a so-called single-payer system, a government-run health care plan.”  The Post adds, “Such a plan, dubbed the public option in last year’s health care debate, would never have passed Congress.” 

In truth, President Obama conveyed everything that one could hope to know about the limits of his proposed “flexibility” when he made the following remark to the governors: “I am not open to re-fighting the battles of the last two years, or undoing the progress that we’ve made.” In other words, the condition of his flexibility is their acceptance of Obamacare.

Obama’s insincere proposal, which would require legislative action, will go nowhere. As the New York Times writes, “House Republican leaders said Monday that they were committed to repealing the law, not amending it.” But the response from governors thus far hasn’t been so clear or firm. Politico reports that there was “a surprisingly positive reaction from Republican governors” in the wake of the speech, quoting Utah governor Gary Herbert and Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin. Herbert called the president's speech a “step in the right direction,” saying, “I'm hopeful it's going to lead [to] better discussions of understanding about flexibility.” And Fallin said, “I was encouraged that there seemed to be some movement to talk about the possibility of allowing states more flexibility.”

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