JULY 2, 2012
Amidst all the talk of a Republican "alternative" to Obamacare, it's refreshing to hear one Republican politician concede that, you know, he just doesn't care much about the uninsured. Here is Mitch McConnell, the senate minority leader, on Fox News Sunday, being badgered by Chris Wallace:
WALLACE: One of the keys to "Obama-care" is that it will extend insurance access to 30 million people who are now uninsured. In your replacement, how would you provide universal coverage?
MCCONNELL: Well, first, let me say the single the best thing we could do for the American health care system is to get rid of "Obama- care," get rid of that half a trillion dollars in Medicare cuts, get rid of the half a trillion dollars in taxes. In other words, the single biggest step we could take in the direction of improving American health care is to get rid of this monstrosity.
WALLACE: But if I may, sir, you've talked about repeal and replace. How would you provide universal coverage?
MCCONNELL: I will get to it in a minute. The first step we need to take is to get rid of what is there, this job-killing proposal that has all of these cuts to existing health care providers. Secondly, we need to go step by step to replace it with more modest reforms. There will not be a 2,700-page Republican alternative. We will not take a meat axe to the American health care system. We will pull out a scalpel and go step by step and make the kinds of more modest changes that would deal with the principal issue which is cost. Things like interstate sales of health insurance. Right now you don't have competition around the country in the selling of health insurance. That is a mistake. Things like lawsuit reform. Billions and billions of dollars are lost every year by hospitals and doctors in defensive medicine. Those kinds of steps...
WALLACE: But respectfully sir, because we are going to run out of time and I just want to ask, what specifically are you going to do to provide universal coverage to the 30 million people who are uninsured?
MCCONNELL: That is not the issue. The question is, how can you go step by step to improve the American health care system? It is already the finest health care system in the world.
WALLACE: But you don't think the 30 million...
MCCONNELL: What our friends on the other...
WALLACE: You don't think the 30 million people that were uninsured is an issue?
MCCONNELL: Let me tell you what we are not going to do. We are not going to turn the American health care system into a Western European system. That is exactly what is at the heart of "Obama- care." They want to have the federal government take over all of American health care. Look, the federal government can't handle the health care it has already got. Medicare is in trouble already.
Medicaid is in trouble already. We need to clean up the health care the federal government is already responsible for before we start immodestly trying to take over all of American health care. That is a big step in the wrong direction.
As my former colleague Jon Chait noted several weeks ago, the election is largely a fight over whether health care is a right or a privilege.