Republican Presidential Candidates Assail Health Reform Law in Debate
On Monday, seven GOP presidential candidates forcefully criticized President Obama on the federal health reform law during a debate in New Hampshire, the New York Times reports.
Each candidate said he or she would repeal the health reform law if elected.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said on his first day in office he would grant waivers from the overhaul to all 50 states (Zeleny/Rutenberg, New York Times, 6/13).
Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) -- who formally announced her candidacy during the debate -- said, "As president, I will not rest until I repeal ObamaCare," adding, "It's a promise. Take it to the bank. ... Cash that check."
According to CQ HealthBeat, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) added a "jolt of reality" to the discussion, noting that in order to repeal the overhaul, Republicans must win more seats in the House and Senate. "If you're serious about repealing ObamaCare, it requires a senatorial majority as well as the presidency," he said.
Two other candidates also noted that the president alone does not have enough power to make changes or eliminate the health reform law.
Candidates Discuss Ryan Medicare Plan
The candidates also discussed the rising cost of the Medicare program, after a physician in the audience asked about the program's fiscal status, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain voiced their support for House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget blueprint (Bunis, CQ HealthBeat, 6/13). Under Ryan's proposal in the House-approved fiscal year 2012 budget resolution (H Con Res 34), Medicare beneficiaries would receive fixed, lump-sum vouchers to purchase private health insurance (California Healthline, 5/13).
Meanwhile, Gingrich attempted to reshape controversial comments he made last month in opposition to Ryan's plan and suggested that the GOP should "slow down" on this issue. He added that he supports Ryan's plan as a "general proposal" (New York Times, 6/14).
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty again promised that his plan for Medicare is forthcoming (CQ HealthBeat, 6/13). Pawlenty has acknowledged that his own plan would resemble the Ryan proposal. Previously, he said his Medicare proposal would change the way health care providers are reimbursed to include performance pay, which rewards quality care. Still, Pawlenty has said that he would sign Ryan's Medicare reform proposal if it were the only plan that came to him as president (California Healthline, 5/31).
On Monday, Pawlenty said that his plan would have the current Medicare plan be an option for beneficiaries but that Medicare also would compete with private plans (CQ HealthBeat, 6/13).
Pawlenty Retreats on 'ObamneyCare'
Pawlenty, who on Sunday coined the word "ObamneyCare" as a criticism of both Romney and the federal reform law, abandoned that line of attack and avoided questions from CNN moderator John King on the issue, Politico reports (Burns et al., Politico, 6/14).
Pawlenty on Sunday said that he opposes any type of health insurance coverage requirement, like those in the federal health reform law and the Massachusetts universal health insurance law. In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Pawlenty took issue with the individual mandate in the federal overhaul, which he called "a dramatic overreach," and criticized the requirement in the Massachusetts law that Romney signed in 2006 as governor (AP/Washington Post, 6/12). He noted that the Obama administration modeled "ObamaCare" after "RomneyCare" and "basically made it ObamneyCare " (Hirschhorn/Martin, Politico, 6/13).
King pushed Pawlenty after he avoided a question on the issue. Pawlenty said, "I just cited President Obama's own words that he looked to Massachusetts as a blueprint," adding, "Using the term 'Obamneycare' was a reflection of the president's comments" (Burns/Haberman, Politico, 6/13).
Political observers were surprised by Pawlenty's backtracking on the issue. Jim Dyke, a former Republican National Committee official, said, "Pawlenty made an odd decision to back away from his health care attack on Romney, which made him seem weak or at a minimum uncertain."
Jason Miller -- a media consultant who previously worked on Rudy Giuliani's 2008 campaign -- said, "If you're not comfortable following through on a criticism of one of your primary opponents in person, why should voters think you'll be able to man up and follow through on a criticism of the president when you face him in the general election?" (Politico, 6/14).