24 June 2009

Obama Flip-Flops on Mandatory Health Care

Way back when Obama was on the campaign trail (has he ever really left it?), he battled with Hillary Clinton repeatedly over health care. Both candidates were promoting health care reform, but allegedly differed on how to implement it. For example, while in Iowa, Obama criticized Hillary's plan: "Senator Clinton is arguing that the only way to get every American covered is if you force every American to buy health care." Then during a contentious debate in NV, he said this:
The only difference between Senator Clinton's health care plan and mine is that she thinks the problem for people without health care is that nobody has mandated -- forced -- them to get health care. That's not what I'm seeing around Nevada. What I see are people who would love to have health care. They -- they desperately want it. But the problem is they can't afford it.

He underlined again during the debate: "I don't think that the problem with the American people is that they are not being forced to get health care.
So compare then to now. During Diane Sawyer's interview with Obama that aired this morning Good Morning America, she asked the One about his health care reform plans. Here's what he says (emphasis mine):
Mandates are an example of... something that I was resistant to during the campaign... this is an area where people have made some pretty compelling arguments to me that if we want to have a system that drives down costs for everybody, then we've got to have healthier people not opt out of the system. And I think that you have to be careful to make sure that there's a waiver. So that if we haven't made health care affordable yet, you're not punishing people, not only because they can't afford health care, but -- now giving 'em an additional fine. Any program that we put in place, I think there will be some phase-in period. So that we can calibrate and adjust to make sure that there really is affordability there before we start trying to penalize people. But I think my thinking on the issue of mandates has evolved. And I think that that is typical of most people who study this problem deeper.
Forcing people to accept the care? Penalize people for opting out? Gee, that sounds awful contradictory to what Obama's own website says: "Q. I like my current insurance coverage. Will I have to change plans? A. No, you will not have to change plans. For those who have insurance now, nothing will change under the Obama plan – except that you will pay less." But will anyone call him on it, other than the "right-wing extremists" at Fox News and conservative blogs? That's a rhetorical question, btw. No need to answer.

h/t: jpt

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