Michele Bachmann on Health Care
Republican Representative (MN-6); 2011 GOP frontrunner
Bachmann vs. Palin on Domestic Issues
GINGRICH: I fought against ObamaCare at every step of the way.
ROMNEY: If I'm President, we're going to get rid of ObamaCare and return the responsibility and care of health care to the people in the states.
BACHMANN: You'd have to go back to 1993 when Newt first advocated for the individual mandate in healthcare. And Gov. Romney sent his teamw to the White House to meet with Obama to teach them how to spread the RomneyCare model across the nation. We have one shot to get rid of ObamaCare, that's it. It is 2012. Do we honestly believe that two men who've just stood on this stage and defended RomneyCare when it was put in place in Massachusetts and the individual mandate when he proposed it in 1993, are they honestly going to get rid of it in 2012
That is, Obamacare is an affront to the animating principles of the American tradition of self-reliance and individualism. We might rely on one another for help, but there's something deeply wrong when a portion of the population--the productive portion--is subsidizing everyone else.
In the 21st century, freedom-loving Americans are not looking for bureaucratic solutions--that is, solutions or pseudosolutions lingering from the mid-20th century.
So back in 2009, when the new administration was talking its bait-&-switch version of health-care "reform", I understood that the health care that America really needed was a serious injection of market forces, followed by a booster shot of empowered freedom. We needed to be knowledgeable and active consumers surveying an open marketplace.
Explanatory note from Wikipedia.com:
The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (or CLASS Act) is a federal law, enacted as Title VIII of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, the formal name for ObamaCare). The CLASS Act would have created a voluntary and public long-term care insurance option for employees, but in Oct. 2011 the Obama administration announced it was unworkable and would be dropped.
BACHMANN: We have a big problem today when it comes to Medicare, because we know that nine years from now, the Medicare hospital Part B Trust Fund is going to be dead flat broke. So we've got to deal with this issue. I was in the White House with President Obama this summer. We asked him, "President Obama, what is your plan to save Medicare?" He said ObamaCare. I think that senior citizens across the country have no idea that President Obama plans for Medicare to collapse, and instead everyone will be pushed into ObamaCare. The way that ObamaCare runs, there's a board called IPAB. It's made up of 15 political appointees. These 15 political appointees will make all the major health care decisions for over 300 million Americans. I don't want 15 political appointees to make a health care decision for a beautiful, fragile, 85-year-old woman who should be making her own decision.
BACHMANN: First, I didn't make that claim nor did I make that statement. Immediately after the debate, a mother came up to me and she was visibly shaken and heartbroken because of what her daughter had gone through. I only related what her story was. But here's the real issue: Gov. Perry mandated a health care decision on all 12-year-old little girls in the state of Texas. And by that mandate, those girls had to have a shot for a sexually transmitted disease. That is not appropriate to be a decision that a governor makes. It is appropriate that parents make that decision in consultation with their doctor. But Governor Perry made a decision where he gave parental rights to a big drug company.
BACHMANN: I think that the principle has to change, because for years, politicians have run on the idea that government is going to buy people more stuff and that the federal government would be taking care of people's prescription drugs, their retirement, their health care, their housing, their food. We're the everybody else that's paying for the freight for all of this. That's the principle that has to change, because we have to now recognize that, going forward, this isn't going to work anymore. We have to be an ownership society, where individual responsibility, personal responsibility once again becomes the animating American principle. And we can't be ashamed of that.
PERRY: It was. And indeed, if I had it to do over again, I would have gone to the legislature. [We did give] moms and dads the opportunity for parental opt-out.
BACHMANN: To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. That should never be done. It's a violation of a liberty interest. Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don't get a mulligan. They don't get a do-over.
Q: [to Perry]: Was what you signed into law a mandate?
PERRY: No, sir it wasn't. It was very clear. It had an opt-out. You may criticize me about the way that I went about it, but at the end of the day, I am always going to err on the side of life.
ROMNEY: If I'm president, on day one I'll grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states.
BACHMANN: With all due respect to the governors, I've read this Obamacare health care bill, I've been fighting this fight the last couple of years. Waivers and executive orders won't cut it. If you could solve Obamacare with an executive order, any president could do it and any president could undo it. That's not how it can be done. Plus, no state has the constitutional right to force a person as a condition of citizenship to buy a product or service against their will. It's unconstitutional, whether it's the state government or whether it's the federal government. The only way to eradicate Obamacare is to pull it out by the root and branch to fully repeal it. It's the only way we're going to get rid of it. This is the election that's going to decide if we have socialized medicine in this country or not. This is it!
A: Well, I think without a doubt, there's two that you look to. First of all are the new regulations that are just being put into place with ObamaCare. As I go across the country and speak to small business people, men and women, they tell me ObamaCare is leading them to not create jobs. ObamaCare is killing jobs. We know that from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. But I know it first-hand from speaking to people. We see it this summer. There are 47% of African-American youth that are currently without jobs, 36% of Hispanic youth. I'm a mom. I've raised five biological kids and 23 foster kids in my home. One thing I know is that kids need jobs. And ObamaCare is clearly leading to job-killing regulations, not job-creating regulations.
THE FACTS: ObamaCare has long been labeled a job killer by Republicans. But the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) at no point said the law would result in job losses. Instead it made the more nuanced assertion that fewer people would choose to work:
"The legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount--roughly half a percent--primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply," the CBO said in an analysis. That's not job-killing, that's workers choosing not to work because of easier access to health care.
Regarding minority youth, there is no evidence that the health care law is responsible for their level of unemployment. In fact, the relevant provisions won't take effect until 2014.
PAWLENTY: That's not the kinds of things she said when I was governor of the state of Minnesota. She says she led the effort against ObamaCare, we got ObamaCare. She led the effort against TARP, we got TARP. She said she's got a titanium spine. It's not her spine we're worried about, it's her record of results.
BACHMANN: Thank you so much. I was at the tip of the spear fighting against the implementation of ObamaCare in the US Congress. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama ran Congress, but I gave them a run for their money. I fought when others ran. I fought. And I led against increasing the deficit.
ROMNEY: Are you familiar with the Massachusetts constitution? I am. And the MA constitution allows states [to mandate insurance].
Q: [to Bachmann]: Does that make any difference whether mandatory health insurance is being imposed by a state or by the federal government?
BACHMANN: No, I don't believe that it does. I think that the government is without authority to compel a citize to purchase a product or a service against their will, because effectively when the federal government does that, what they're doing is they are saying to the individual, they are going to set the price of what that product is. If the federal government can force American citizens or if a state can force their citizens to purchase health insurance, there is nothing that the state cannot do. This is clearly an unconstitutional action, whether it's done at the federal level or whether it's the state level
Johnson: Medicaid and Medicare and reforming Social Security.
Bachmann: Obamacare, the largest entitlement and spending program in our country's history.
Cain: I would focus on major entitlement reform. This would focus on programs similar to Social Security.
Santorum: And of course repeal Obamacare before it does even more damage to our economy and our freedom
A: Repeal Obamacare. It's estimated to cost 800,000 jobs, is a small business killer, and unconstitutional. I will not rest until Obamacare is repealed. You can take it to the bank. We need the government to get out of the way and increase incentives for competition in the private markets.
BACHMANN: I was the very first member of Congress to introduce the full-scale repeal of Obamacare. And I want to make a promise to everyone watching tonight: As president of the US, I will not rest until I repeal Obamacare. It's a promise. Take it to the bank, cash the check. I'll make sure that that happens.
This is the symbol and the signature issue of President Obama during his entire tenure. And this is a job-killer. The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office has said that Obamacare will kill 800,000 jobs. What could the president be thinking by passing a bill like this, knowing full well it will kill 800,000 jobs?
Senior citizens get this more than any other segment of our population, because they know in Obamacare, the president took away $500 billion, a half-trillion dollars out of Medicare, shifted it to Obamacare to pay for younger people, and it's senior citizens who have the most to lose in Obamacare.
First, the law doesn't create a government-run system. Instead, it builds on our current system and adds a lot of new business for private insurers. Second, some studies on the quality of care worldwide have not put the US at the top. A 2010 Commonwealth Fund study ranked the US last among seven countries in health system performance. In other health outcome measures, the US ranks 49th in life expectancy, according to the CIA World Factbook, and plenty of other countries have lower rates of infant mortality.
Obamacare mandates and penalties may even force many job creators to just stop offering health insurance altogether, unless of course yours is one of the more-than-222 privileged companies or unions that has already received a government waiver under Obamacare. In the end, unless we fully repeal Obamacare, a nation that currently enjoys the world's finest health care might be forced to rely on government-run coverage. That could have a devastating impact on our national debt for even generations to come.
The president should repeal Obamacare and support free-market solutions, like medical malpractice reform and allowing all Americans to buy any healthcare policy they like anywhere in the United States.
[Sen. DeMint, R-SC]: The Democrats have Medicare on a course of bankruptcy. Republicans are trying to save Medicare & make sure there are options for seniors in the future. Medicare will not be there 5 or 10 years from now. Doctors will not see Medicare patients at the rate [Congress will] pay.
[Sen. Ayotte, R-NH]: We have 3 choices when it comes to addressing rising health care costs in Medicare. We can do nothing & watch the program go bankrupt in 2024. We can go forward with the President's proposal to ration care through an unelected board of 15 bureaucrats. Or we can show real leadership & strengthen the program to make it solvent for current beneficiaries, and allow future beneficiaries to make choices.
Opponent's Arguments for voting No:
[Sen. Conrad, D-ND]: In the House Republican budget plan, the first thing they do is cut $4 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the wealthiest among us, they give them an additional $1 trillion in tax reductions. To offset these massive new tax cuts, they have decided to shred the social safety net. They have decided to shred Medicare. They have decided to shred program after program so they can give more tax cuts to those who are the wealthiest among us.
[Sen. Merkley, D-OR]: The Republicans chose to end Medicare as we know it. The Republican plan reopens the doughnut hole. That is the hole into which seniors fall when, after they have some assistance with the first drugs they need, they get no assistance until they reach a catastrophic level. It is in that hole that seniors have had their finances devastated. We fixed it. Republicans want to unfix it and throw seniors back into the abyss. Then, instead of guaranteeing Medicare coverage for a fixed set of benefits for every senior--as Medicare does now--the Republican plan gives seniors a coupon and says: Good luck. Go buy your insurance. If the insurance goes up, too bad.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Pitts, R-PA]: Section 4002 of PPACA establishes a Prevention and Public Health Fund, which my bill, H.R. 1217, would repeal. The PPACA section authorizes the appropriation of and appropriates to the fund from the Treasury the following amounts:
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Waxman, D-CA]: This bill represents the Republicans' newest line of attack to disrupt, dismantle, and to ultimately destroy the Affordable Care Act. For many years, Republicans have joined with Democrats in supporting programs to prevent disease, to promote health and, in turn, to cut health care costs. But today, the House will vote to end funding for the first and only Federal program with dedicated, ongoing resources designed to make us a healthier Nation.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. HEATH SHULER (D, NC-11): Putting a dangerous, overworked FDA in charge of tobacco is a threat to public safety. Last year, the FDA commissioner testified that he had serious concerns that this bill could undermine the public health role of the FDA. And the FDA Science Board said the FDA's inability to keep up with scientific advancements means that Americans' lives will be at risk.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. HENRY WAXMAN (D, CA-30): The bill before us, the Waxman-Platts bill, has been carefully crafted over more than a decade, in close consultation with the public health community. It's been endorsed by over 1,000 different public health, scientific, medical, faith, and community organizations.
Sen. HARRY REID (D, NV): Yesterday, 3,500 children who had never smoked before tried their first cigarette. For some, it will also be their last cigarette but certainly not all. If you think 3,500 is a scary number, how about 3.5 million. That is a pretty scary number. That is how many American high school kids smoke--3.5 million. Nearly all of them aren't old enough to buy cigarettes. It means we have as many boys and girls smoking as are participating in athletics in high schools. We have as many as are playing football, basketball, track and field, and baseball combined.
Rep. FRANK PALLONE (D, NJ-6): In the last Congress, we passed legislation that enjoyed bipartisan support as well as the support of the American people. Unfortunately, it did not enjoy the support of the President, who vetoed our bill twice, and went on to proclaim that uninsured children can simply go to the emergency room to have their medical needs met. As the Nation moves deeper into a recession and unemployment rates continue to rise, millions of Americans are joining the ranks of the uninsured, many of whom are children. We can't delay. We must enact this legislation now.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ROY BLUNT (R, MI-7): This bill doesn't require the States to meet any kind of threshold standard that would ensure that States were doing everything they could to find kids who needed insurance before they begin to spend money to find kids who may not have the same need. Under the bill several thousands of American families would be poor enough to qualify for SCHIP and have the government pay for their health care, but they'd be rich enough to still be required to pay the alternative minimum tax. The bill changes welfare participation laws by eliminating the 5-year waiting period for legal immigrants to lawfully reside in the country before they can participate in this program. In the final bill, we assume that 65% of the children receiving the benefit wouldn't get the benefit anymore. It seems to me this bill needs more work, would have benefited from a committee hearing. It doesn't prioritize poor kids to ensure that they get health care first.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Sen. PATTY MURRAY (D, WA): President Bush vetoed a bill that would make vital improvements to the program that has helped ensure that millions of seniors and the disabled can get the care they need. This bill puts an emphasis on preventive care that will help our seniors stay healthy, and it will help to keep costs down by enabling those patients to get care before they get seriously ill. This bill will improve coverage for low-income seniors who need expert help to afford basic care. It will help make sure our seniors get mental health care.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. PALLONE. This is a comprehensive bill which will establish full mental health and addiction care parity. The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 authorized for 5 years partial parity by mandating that the annual and lifetime dollar limit for mental health treatment under group health plans offering mental health coverage be no less than that for physical illnesses. This bill requires full parity and also protects against discrimination by diagnosis.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. DEAL of Georgia: I am a supporter of the concept of mental health parity, but this bill before us today is not the correct approach. This path will raise the price of health insurance, and would cause some to lose their health insurance benefits and some employers to terminate mental health benefits altogether.
The bill's focus is also overly broad. Our legislation should focus on serious biologically-based mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, not on jet lag and caffeine addiction, as this bill would include. There are no criteria for judicial review, required notice and comment, or congressional review of future decisions.
I would ask my colleagues to vote "no" today so that we can take up the Senate bill and avoid a possible stalemate in a House-Senate conference on an issue that should be signed into law this Congress.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 268-148
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: This Act would enroll all 6 million uninsured children who are eligible, but not enrolled, for coverage under existing programs.
PRESIDENT'S VETO MESSAGE: Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage--not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. My Administration strongly supports reauthorization of SCHIP. [But this bill, even with changes, does not meet the requirements I outlined].
It would still shift SCHIP away from its original purpose by covering adults. It would still include coverage of many individuals with incomes higher than the median income. It would still result in government health care for approximately 2 million children who already have private health care coverage.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill protects health insurance coverage for some 6 million children who now depend on SCHIP. It provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. Together, this is a total of better than 10 million young Americans who, without this legislation, would not have health insurance.
The bill makes changes to accommodate the President's stated concerns.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. It meets the concerns expressed in the President's veto message [from HR976]:
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. DEAL: This bill [fails to] fix the previous legislation that has been vetoed:
Veto message from President Bush:
Like its predecessor, HR976, this bill does not put poor children first and it moves our country's health care system in the wrong direction. Ultimately, our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage--not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. As a result, I cannot sign this legislation.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This legislation is an overdue step to improve part D drug benefits. The bipartisan bill is simple and straightforward. It removes the prohibition from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and requires the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate. This legislation will deliver lower premiums to the seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers.
It is equally important to understand that this legislation does not do certain things. HR4 does not preclude private plans from getting additional discounts on medicines they offer seniors and people with disabilities. HR4 does not establish a national formulary. HR4 does not require price controls. HR4 does not hamstring research and development by pharmaceutical houses. HR4 does not require using the Department of Veterans Affairs' price schedule.
Opponents support voting NO because:
Does ideological purity trump sound public policy? It shouldn't, but, unfortunately, it appears that ideology would profoundly change the Medicare part D prescription drug program, a program that is working well, a program that has arrived on time and under budget. The changes are not being proposed because of any weakness or defect in the program, but because of ideological opposition to market-based prices. Since the inception of the part D program, America's seniors have had access to greater coverage at a lower cost than at any time under Medicare.
Under the guise of negotiation, this bill proposes to enact draconian price controls on pharmaceutical products. Competition has brought significant cost savings to the program. The current system trusts the marketplace, with some guidance, to be the most efficient arbiter of distribution.
To prohibit the use of Federal funds for any universal or mandatory mental health screening program.
Introductory statement by Sponsor:
Rep. PAUL: This bill forbids Federal funds from being used for any universal or mandatory mental health screening of students without the express, written, voluntary, informed consent of their parents or legal guardian. This bill protects the fundamental right of parents to direct and control the upbringing and education of their children.
[A Congressional commission] recommends that universal or mandatory mental health screening first be implemented in public schools as a prelude to expanding it to the general public. However, neither the commission's report nor any related mental health screening proposal requires parental consent before a child is subjected to mental health screening. Federally-funded universal or mandatory mental health screening in schools without parental consent could lead to labeling more children as "ADD" or "hyperactive" and thus force more children to take psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, against their parents' wishes.
Many children have suffered harmful side effects from using psychotropic drugs. Some of the possible side effects include mania, violence, dependence, and weight gain. Yet, parents are already being threatened with child abuse charges if they resist efforts to drug their children. Imagine how much easier it will be to drug children against their parents' wishes if a Federally-funded mental health screener makes the recommendation.
The Contract from America, clause 7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care:
Defund, repeal and replace the recently passed government-run health care with a system that actually makes health care and insurance more affordable by enabling
The Club for Growth's "Repeal-It!" Pledge for incumbents states, "I hereby pledge to the people of my district/state to sponsor and support legislation to repeal any federal health care takeover passed in 2010, and replace it with real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government."
Repeals the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, effective as of its enactment. Restores provisions of law amended by such Act.
Repeals the health care provisions of the Health Care and Education and Reconciliation Act of 2010, effective as of the Act's enactment. Restores provisions of law amended by the Act's health care provisions.
Congressional Summary: Declares that no funds are authorized to be appropriated to carry out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA), and any amendments made by either such Act.
OnTheIssues Explanation:This bill proposes to defund ObamaCare, instead of repealing it. This bill uses Congress' "power of the purse" to undo the previously-passed law, while still leaving that law on the books. In contrast, H.R. 2 repeals ObamaCare rather than defunding it; and H.R. 4 attempts to undo ObamaCare one piece at a time.
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