The blog Verum Serum has dug up a clip of a May 2009 Newt Gingrich conference call that followed a White House press conference on health care reform. (You can listen to the whole call here.) Gingrich said he was "little bit skeptical but encouraged" by the approach President Obama was taking. He also endorsed the idea that people who didn't buy health insurance would "post a bond." While Gingrich was "encouraged" by Obamacare in its early stage of development, many conservatives were sounding the alarm about the Democrats' plan. See, for example, this article by Yuval Levin and James Capretta from the May 18, 2009 issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD: "Stop ObamaCare: The Democrats' plan would displace tens of millions of happily insured Americans and exacerbate the worst elements of the current system."
"I think there's a very good thing about this and a very unknown thing about all this," Gingrich said in May 2009. "The good thing is that unlike the Hillarycare process of 1993, we don’t have 500 people in a room hiding in a room trying to write the magic bill that’s gonna go through on an up or down vote. We actually have a process underway where lots and lots of different players have a real opportunity to have input. And I think in that sense this is already a healthier process than we saw in 1993, and a more open process."
"What we don't know, and this is what leaves us, I think, a little bit skeptical but encouraged, if that might be the right formula, there are no details that are binding," he continued. "And there are no details that are clarifying in an expansive way. What we're getting today is a press release that says, We'd all like to get health reform. We're all for health reform. We're all pledged to do something on health reform. And we think if we all do this together we'll actually save some money, and that money, because the health care system is so huge, might come out to be $2 trillion over 10 years."
"It is encouraging and it will be fascinating to watch now as that moves into a more detailed negotiation," he said.
Gingrich added that "we believe that there should be must carry – that is, everybody should either have health insurance or if you’re an absolute libertarian, we would allow you to post a bond, but we would not allow people to be free riders failing to insure themselves and then showing up at the emergency room with no means of payment. If you have must-carry, then the insurance companies have told us that we can have must-issue, and then you don't have to worry about cherry-picking and maneuvering."
"As we move beyond today's press conference at the White House, this is the kind of general model that we're going to be advocating."