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Posted at 4:01 PM ET, 01/20/2011

Where is the Republican who supports universal health care?

By Ezra Klein

Quick question: At this point, with Sen. Bob Bennett out of the Senate, is there a Republican serving in Congress who has either authored, co-sponsored or committed to vote for a bill that makes health-care coverage either universal or very close (say, 95 percent or above) to it? There used to be a lot of them, from Chafee's plan to Richard Nixon's proposal to Wyden-Bennett to Langevin-Shays. Are there any now? Is there a plan out there that I'm just missing? Or is Brian Beutler right that the Republican Party has completely abandoned universal coverage as a priority?

By Ezra Klein  | January 20, 2011; 4:01 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Didn't Olympia Snowe vote for Baucus's Senate Finance Committee version of Health Reform bill in 2009?

Posted by: ramendel | January 20, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Olympia Snowe vote for Baucus's Senate Finance Committee version of Health Reform bill in 2009?

Posted by: ramendel | January 20, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Several of the GOP co-sponsors of Wyden-Bennett are still around, so they'd count, I'd think: Alexander, Crapo, Graham. Grassley and Corker were co-sponsors in the prior session.

Although most might recant at this point (as Alexander more or less did when interviewed by this blog IIRC).

Posted by: edwardlahoa | January 20, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Lots of Republicans support universal health care. In fact, most all the Republicans I know do.

Oh, wait a sec....I suppose you are restricting your definition of "universal health care" to a scheme whereby all control for managing the payments and authorization of health care is managed by a centralized federal government bureaucracy? Then you are probably correct that no Republican (or at least no one rightly carrying the 'conservative' label) would ever support such a disastrous plan for our health care industry.

I thought for a minute you just meant supporting 'universal health care' whereby everyone can get access to health care, be they funded by state or municipal programs, privately funded non-profit clinics, etc. Those already existed long before the ACA came along, and lots of Republicans support that version of providing health care universally to every individual who cannot afford their own insurance.

Posted by: dbw1 | January 20, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Can you really call it a priority if they oppose all realistic mechanisms of achieving it? It's like saying getting to Mars is a priority while opposing all funding for space travel.

Posted by: StokeyWan | January 20, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

dbw1, actually, I think your last paragraph is exactly what Ezra meant. Are there Republicans who support a plan that, at the end of the day, results in all or nearly all Americans having insurance coverage? It used to be a bi-partisan priority to find some plan that would have universal (or near universal) coverage as its end result, even if the two sides differed on how you got there. That's why you had a situation where Dems supported Clinton's plan, where government played a large role, and the Republicans produced an alternative focused around the individual mandate (being a mostly-private market based solution).

What we have now are Dems supporting a variety of options for achieving universal coverage (some support single payer because they think it's better while other supported the ACA because they thought it could pass), and a bunch of Republicans who are opposed to the ACA but don't seem to be pushing any alternative, let alone one which has the result of universal coverage. They're not pushing John McCain's plan, either.

Posted by: MosBen | January 20, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Republicans went to such great lengths to paint moderate, non-controverisal ideas as threats to freedoms that they can't ever return to their previously-held positions. They may have once supported universal coverage as an ideal, but they know well that the only way to achieve it is through some sort of mandate - and that is forever off the table for them. They are no longer a party that supports health care reforms of any kind - The status quo of 30 million uninsured is their official position (as dbw1's arguments so aptly demonstrate).

Posted by: workmonkey | January 20, 2011 5:39 PM | Report abuse

If you don't support the government paying for it as a handout, then you are against people having it. Sincerely, Lazy Liberal on Toilet Logic

Posted by: cdosquared5 | January 20, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse

There are sound policy reasons, if you're a Republican, for turning your back on universal coverage.

A cowed, nervous, workforce, contingently employed when it's working at all, constantly looking over its shoulder, waiting for when the next blow to fall, is a lot easier to manage.

It's a lot less likely to ask about the size of the pie, or its division. It's too busy surviving to look up, look around, and ask uncomfortable questions.

It should also, in a democracy, not be a reliable source of votes but that can be remedied by giving it enough bright shiny things to chase for three key months every couple of years.

You can miscalculate, and find your head on the end of a pike, of course, but that's in theory, but right up until that final miscalculation, anyways, it's all gravy.

Posted by: davis_x_machina | January 20, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Face the facts voters, the GREEDY OLD PARTY has no plan for the American people just the elite. Be prepared as your money, liberty and health will continue to fade under repub control. When will your eyes open, perhaps when you are in slave camps like China and North Korea.

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | January 21, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

dbw1, what you claim is "universal healthcare" is healthcare for people living in well-off localities in well-off states.
And I hate to break it to you, but there aren't a lot of those and there will be even fewer in the next few years (feds push costs down to states, states to municipalities... municipalities that often have state and local legislation that straight-jackets their ability to raise taxes even as they encounter shrinking budgets due to loss of property value).
So, yeah, maybe a few people in rich counties will get socialized medicine. Social darwinism for the rest of us? What a great "universal healthcare" plan...

Posted by: RCBII | January 21, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

No Republican or Democrat should be supporting socialized medicine. This redistribution of wealth scheme was tried in the Soviet Union et al and failed. Political hacks who think somehow it will work in America haven't been listening to the informed shouting in the streets. What part of NO isn't being understood?

Posted by: val24601 | January 21, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

And, I sure hope there aren't any Republicans who support government-run and/or -financed UHC. Brother, this is pure socialism in health care. I'm for UHC: you pay for yours and I'll pay for mine.

Posted by: wpcharowhas | January 21, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Universal Health Care are code words for a government run single payor system usually found in socialist and communist countries.
No Republican or Democrat should be for such a system. I lived under socialism and went to hospital #453. That system failed and we should not try to imitate failure regardless how much the progressives want it.

Posted by: acahorvath | January 21, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

So, does universal coverage equal socialism? Not by a long shot! We're the only industrialized country in the world that has not achieved universal coverage and nearly all of the others are far from socialistic: if you want to see what's possible, take a look at Germany, Switzerland, France (try calling Sarkozy a socialist!), Italy, Singapore or Japan. In all cases, the physicians and hospitals are private and in most of these countries, insurance is purchased from private insurance companies. Oh there is one important difference: NONE of the insurance companies are for-profit.

If you don't believe in universal coverage then you are supporting the death of 15,000 to 45,000 Americans per year from lack of health insurance, plus 50% of all bankruptcies due to lack of health coverage. Doesn't strike me as a particularly American kind of morality.

Posted by: keith35 | January 22, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

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