Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Change Of HEART - The Three GOP Senators Who Co-Sponsored The 1993 Republican Health Care Bill, Which Mandated The Purchase Of Insurance, Who Are Still In Office

Now that Republicans are in charge of the House of Representatives, they plan on ignoring all the other pressing matters of America to try and repeal the health care reform legislation of last year. They started to do so but with the tragedy in Tuscon, House Republicans put their plans on hold, but a schedule released by

Michael O'Brien wrote the following for The Hill:
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released his schedule for next week on Friday, which has the GOP-controlled House starting debate on its legislation on Tuesday before a Wednesday vote.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor indicates he will start debate on Tuesday.
On Thursday, the House will debate and vote on legislation to instruct committees to develop alternatives to replace the reform law.

The vote represents somewhat of a return to normalcy in the House after all substantive floor action was postponed in the past week, in the wake of the attack against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

Republicans had faced some calls to change the name of their bill in the wake of the attack, but Cantor's schedule showed no indication of doing so, referring to H.R. 2 by its official name, "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act."
While I think the GOP-led House will pass any anti-reform bill, I doubt the Democratic-controlled Senate would, but I thought it would be interesting to point out something very interesting about the Senate - in 1993, 21 Republicans and 2 Democrats (3 if you count Arlen Specter) co-sponsored a health care bill similar to the one last year.  The 1993 bill, the "Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993," or HEART Act, contained an individual mandate to purchase health care insurance much like the one Republicans vilified since the Democrats dropped the public option in favor of the mandate.

The HEART Act required "each citizen or lawful permanent resident to be covered under a qualified health plan or equivalent health care program."

In addition to a mandate, the GOP-sponsored bill contained some other similarities, such as using Internal Revenue Code to enforce certain aspects of the bill, like employer and insurer compliance, and if Sarah Palin was around back then, she would have surely claimed the GOP bill established "death panels" - the bill required a "Health Care Data Panel to develop regulations for the operation of an integrated electronic health care data interchange system," which would have surely been interpreted by the Alaskan Claptrap as the government using data to determine what procedures are medically necessary.

Now while conservatives may claim this bill was bipartisan because a couple Democrats signed on(and Arlen Specter), by using their own criticisms against the support of only a couple Republicans on recent legislation crafted by Democrats, I would have to say they would that the HEART Act was not a bipartisan creation, so why am I writing about this bill nearly 20 years after its creation?

There are three still-seated Republican senators who co-sponsored this legislation who now oppose last years health care reform, and one of the major aspects of the law they use to claim it kills jobs and is unconstitutional - the individual mandate - is something they co-sponsored 17 years ago.

Those 3 GOP co-sponsors of The HEART Act of 1993 are as follows - Chuck Grassley of Iowa; Orrin Hatch of Utah; and Richard Lugar of Indiana. 

Now lets take a look at these three hypocrites - originally I was writing about five hypocrites, but since two ended their terms in the Senate this year, that leaves only three, but the other two - Bob Bennett of Utah and Kit Bond of Missouri - are still hypocrites for opposing the individual mandate they once championed throughout the health care debate.

Think Progress' The Wonk Room detailed Chuck Grassley's change of heart pretty well:
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) — the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee — supported the individual mandate in 1993, when he, along with Sen. John Chafee (R-RI), proposed an alternative to President Bill Clinton’s health care initiative that required every American to purchase health insurance coverage. He supported the mandate when he co-sponsored the Wyden-Bennet health care plan in 2007. And he endorsed the policy again in June of 2009, when he told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace that there was bipartisan agreement that individuals should take responsibility for their own health care costs. But as the Senate Finance Committee prepared to release its health care bill, Grassley started arguing that the mandate is an “unprecedented” intrusion into the rights of the individual. In September of 2009, Grassley said that he was “very reluctant to go along with an individual mandate” since it would impose “a federal penalty against people who don’t have health insurance.”
Grassley responded to allegations of flip-flopping that he only changed his position once he learned the law was unconstitutional, despite the fact that most constitutional scholars believe the mandate to be constitutional.

Last year, Orrin Hatch claimed the health care bill was a plan by the Democrats to destroy the two-party system and establish socialized medicine in this country.

Michael O'Brien wrote the following for The Hill:
Hatch asserted that the health bills, which he believes represent a "step-by-step approach to socialized medicine," will lead to Americans' dependence on Democrats for their health and other issues.

"And if they get there, of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, 'All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party,' " Hatch said during an interview with the conservative CNSNews.com.

"That's their goal," Hatch added. "That's what keeps Democrats in power."

That claim led Hatch to suggest that some Democrats are "diabolical" in their pursuit of health reform.

"Do I believe they're that diabolical? I don't believe most of them are, but I think some of them are," Hatch said. "Maybe diabolical's too harsh of a word, but the fact is, they really, really believe in socialized medicine."
Because Hatch believed health care reform, including the individual mandate, to be socialist and a plan to destroy the two-party system, did Hatch admit that he originally planned to destroy the two-party system and establish a one-party Republican state with his co-sponsoring of the similar 1993 legislation?  Is Hatch "diabolical," as defined by himself?

Hatch also commented on the constitutionality of the bill a couple months ago while appearing on Fox News.

"The individual mandate, in our eyes, is clearly unconstitutional," explained Hatch Fox's Greta Van Susteren. "If Congress can do that to us, then there's nothing that the government can't do to us."

Hatch, like Grassley, had a hard time explaining his shift in opinion, claiming he never knew he supported the mandate that appeared in the legislation he co-sponsored:

"In 1993, we were trying to kill HillaryCare and I didn't pay any attention to that because that was part of a bill that I just hadn't centered on," he said. "But, since then, of course, 17 years later, when it comes up and I know it's possible it's going to pass, then I looked at it and, constitutionally, I came to the conclusion this would be."

Looks like Hatch is taking the "Shaggy defense."

Hatch and Grassley also signed a brief with thirty other Republicans in support of a court case challenging health care reform.  The federal case based in Florida argued that the individual mandate Grassley and Hatch once supported was unconstitutional.

Last summer, Richard Lugar commented that he would vote for repeal of the new healthcare law, but for the most part Lugar has been quiet on the matter, declining to sign the amicus brief Grassley and Hatch did, presumably because Lugar faces reelection in 2012 and did not need to seek tea party support for the mid-term elections, and with repeal legislation kicking off the 112th Congress, Lugar has some time before voters forget and he can go back to courting moderates and independents without fear of tea party reprisal.

This is all interesting because not only did these senators change positions drastically over the years, but the fact that they have claimed Democrats have acted against the interests of America and that Americans support their repeal efforts despite recent polls showing only a quarter of the population support repeal.  While the amount of people opposed to the legislation remains high (41 percent opposed to 40 percent who support), the numbers have begun to normalize with the education and implementation of the positive aspects of the bill.

Instead of repealing the bill, Republicans need to focus on amending the bill, and not using the amendment process to cripple the bill.  Republicans must not allow their hatred of the bill to prevent them from accomplishing other important matters - they need to tackle everything all at once, but considering McCain's answers during the 2008 debates and how he would prioritize his presidency, I doubt Republicans will be able to multi-task and will focus on the unpopular repeal bill.

Who is cramming legislation down America's throat now?


  1. It is a damn shame this bill was introduced prior to the internet becoming such a valuable tool. What would be really funny is if someone could track down any of John Boehner's made regarding this bill. He was elected to Congress in 1990. I have checked and my search came up empty. You probably would have to go back to his hometown newspaper. If you find something, there is a Pulitzer prize waiting for the reporter who uncovers a quote in support of the Republican alternative. Oh, and by the way, the law is clearly constitutional. When an uninsured crosses state lines and gets sick or injured, who picks up the tab? The residents of the foreign state. Therefore, you have interstate commerce which Congress decided to regulate by mandating health insurance.

  2. "Grassley responded to allegations of flip-flopping that he only changed his position once he learned the law was unconstitutional, despite the fact that most constitutional scholars believe the mandate to be constitutional. "

    and as we know now, the law IS constitutional.


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