Politics & Policy

Does Gingrich, Like Romney, Have History of Supporting Individual Mandate?

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reports today that Newt Gingrich has supported an individual mandate as part of health care reform as much as Mitt Romney has:

In his post-congressional life, Gingrich has been a vocal champion for mandated insurance coverage — the very provision of President Obama’s health care legislation that the Republican Party now decries as fundamentally unconstitutional.

This mandate was hardly some little-discussed aspect of Gingrich’s plan for health care reform. In the mid-2000s, he partnered with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) to promote a centrist solution to fixing the nation’s health care system. A July 22, 2005, Hotline article on one of the duo’s events described the former speaker as endorsing not just state-based mandates (the linchpin of Romney’s Massachusetts law) but “some federal mandates” as well. A New York Sun writeup of what appears to be the same event noted that “both politicians appeared to endorse proposals to require all individuals to have some form of health coverage.” …

In 2005′s “Winning the Future,” he expanded on the idea in more detail: “You have the right to be part of the lowest-cost insurance pool and you have a responsibility to buy insurance. … We need some significant changes to ensure that every American is insured, but we should make it clear that a 21st Century Intelligent System requires everyone to participate in the insurance system.”

The Gingrich campaign disputes the account. “The Huffington Post gets it wrong,” Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler tells National Review Online in a statement. “Gingrich is fundamentally opposed to a federal health insurance mandate. He believes such a mandate is unconstitutional.”

Here’s the full statement from Tyler:

The Huffington Post gets it wrong.  They are trying to compare the government-run health care systems of Obamacare and Massachusetts to Gingrich’s largely market based system that puts the healthcare consumer in the drivers seat.  To get cost saving with greater choice and high quality care, Gingrich relies upon the market which puts the patient at the center of the system where choice can be made by knowing the actual price and quality like everywhere else in the free market.  Obamacare and Massachusetts rely on rationing and price controls which lead to lower quality at the highest cost (no downward cost pressures) care with fewer choices which leads to scarce and low quality care.

Gingrich is fundamentally opposed to a federal health insurance mandate. He believes such a mandate is unconstitutional, which is why he supports the litigation by the several state Attorney Generals in federal court that challenges the constitutionality of such a law.  He fundamentally oppose the government telling a free people what things they should buy and what those things should be.

If the federal government were to have the power to make an individual purchase health insurance, then there are just about no limits on the power of the federal government. It would no longer mean we have a Constitution of limited powers but a Constitution that grants Congress unlimited powers.  But we know that this was not the vision of the founding fathers.

In terms of health insurance, Gingrich believes that we need a health system that is designed to constantly put downward pressure on health costs through choice and competition so that more affordable healthcare services allow more and more people to enter the system and afford to purchase health insurance.  We need to reduce costs and improve access to healthcare, such as through allowing individuals to buy less expensive insurance across state lines or associating together to form groups that buy health insurance at better rates. And there are many more good ideas to lower costs.

Gingrich wants the United States to have a system where every single American has access to affordable care through private health insurance options not government run care and mandates. For those with low income, we should provide vouchers or tax credits to help them buy insurance. Everyone who wants insurance should be able to get it, the poor and the rich. 

What he has also said for years is that everyone should be required to pay for their healthcare. For those people who can afford to buy health insurance coverage but elect not to purchase health insurance coverage, he has always said that they should nevertheless be required to pay for their healthcare services if they use them.  Under no circumstances should people be allowed to game the system where on one hand they don’t purchase health insurance and then on the other hand they use health services and never pay the bill. That’s immoral and will bankruptcy the current system. 

People want to be free to choose, they have the right to choose what they want. The Obama and Massachusetts government-run plans do not allow people to choose.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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