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Heritage Foundation wins - gets its 1994 health care plan made into law

Tony Wikrent's picture

Just how far right has the Overton window been pushed the past two decades?

Let's begin by considering the origins of "Obamacare". It comes from Massachusetts. It was passed early in Gov. Patrick's reign because during the campaign it was already in debate as it was Gov. Mitt Romney's proposal. Now, one might wonder where the conservative, free market, head of Bain Consulting governor might go [to find] a healthcare plan? Well, he got it from the Heritage Foundation. And why did they have such a plan? Well, they developed its broad outlines during the 1993-4 years as the Republican ANSWER to Hillary's effort. So, that is our new federal plan -- it is a warmed over version of the Heritage Plan.

Professor of economics at Middlebury College, Robert E. Prasch, continues (hat tip to James Woolley at The Economic Populist):

Now, I tend to be skeptical of Heritage Foundation health-care plans. For several reasons:

(1) By design, costs are not contained, neither is health care reformed. This means that "affordability" does not come from controlling costs, but by shifting them. Shift to whom? A hallmark of the Heritage/Romney plan is that no change of the distribution of income is to occur with the financing of this plan. NONE. Rather, funding is to be from three sources --- those with supposedly "Cadillac" plans, those who have "opted out' because of the laughably high cost of coverage relative to their own risks, and to the state general fund.

(2), In light of state budget shortfalls, it is no surprise that the latter source is declining quickly, and tens of thousands of Mass residents have ALREADY lost their subsidies (this trend will certainly occur on Capitol Hill over the next several years as 'deficit mania" kicks in). So, get this, as your income declines and your house is repossessed, the cost of your health care rises with higher premiums AND lower subsidies. But, make no mistake, even as the subsidies decline, the mandate will stay -- why should the big companies give up this huge windfall of unchecked access to the wages of the low paid?

(3) I also wish to warn against the 'NPR version' of the story that this bill "gives" health care for those without. Nothing is given, it is a MANDATE. Now, while the original 'vision' of the bill had subsidies, these are fading rapidly. So, now we have a dramatically underfunded mandate. Solving the lack of insurance by mandating the poor to buy it is, to be blunt, Dickensian. Obama himself stated it very well during the campaign "It is like solving homelessness with a mandate that those living on the streets buy a house".

"during the campaign" Yeah, well, the real question is:

Do you suppose Heritage's idea of health care reform will work out as great as Heritage's idea of financial deregulation?

No votes yet


Submitted by hipparchia on

i've been reading krugman and delong [an especially good read] just now.

heads, the republicans win, tails the democrats lose. the one question i have is how many democrats knew ahead of time they were being pushed into passing republican legislation? all of them? a lot of them? only a few of them?

Submitted by jawbone on

NOW about the conservative roots of this bill, after it's been passed, to be very interesting. Did Robert Reich write this so clearly prior to its passage? He may have; I haven't read everything -- and I was kinda off line for about six months. So, gainsay me if you know differently.

I'm remembering a piece I read since passage , which I can't find or remember enough to track down, that made the point that the Dems had to keep the Rightwad nature of the bill as little talked about as possible...bcz if the prog and lib Dems knew how Heritage it was, and knew the public knew it, then they could not have voted for it.

Now I'm not sure I'm remembering the paragraph accurately. But it makes sense....sorta.

Sound familiar to any readers here?

Submitted by hipparchia on

So for the Democrats, it was RomneyCare or nothing. Thus the task for Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama was to hold the Democratic right to RomneyCare while not losing the Democratic left. As long as they could say to the left, "Look, this is what we can pass: It's a lot better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (and a poke in the eye with a sharp stick is a lot better than our current health-care financing system)," they had a chance of holding the left, especially if they could sweeten it with progressive tax and subsidy policies. But if they pointed out the intellectual origins of the plan—oh, and by the way, the guts of the plan came out of the conservative über-think tank, the Heritage Foundation, and it was what Mitt Romney thought was good policy back in 2004—then the left-wing Democrats' heads would have exploded and their votes would have vanished.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i've seen several variations of it scattered around the blogosphere today. i'm just curious how many 'liberal' and 'progressive' pundits and wonks were bought off to remain quiet about the republicanness and how many of them were just plain too stupid to spot republicanness. nor am i sure which is worse, lying pundits or stupid pundits.

Submitted by gmanedit on

See Bruce Bartlett (

Since, he is no longer affiliated with AEI [American Enterprise Institute], I feel free to say publicly something he [David Frum] told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI "scholars" on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do.

I haven't read through all the comments there (ouch—some self-professed liberals invited Bartlett and Frum to join the big-tent Democrats as Blue Dogs) or at Steve Benen's place (, but the consensus so far is that the AEI ordered their people to keep their mouths shut so the Republicans could present a united front in opposition. No one has suggested that the silence was in order not to queer the deal—to keep "progressives" from catching on.

A win-win!

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

It was passed in 2006, under governor Mitt Romney who signed it in to law April 12th, 2006. It was NOT passed in Patrick's reign.