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Tim Pawlenty on Health Care

Republican MN Governor


We did healthcare the right way in Minnesota

Q: As you both know there's an expression "Minnesota Nice." And some people believe that both of you have tested it in recent weeks. Gov. Pawlenty, you say that Rep. Bachmann has no accomplishments in Congress. You have questioned her ability to serve as president because of her history of migraines. Is she unqualified or is she just beating you in the polls?

PAWLENTY: To correct you, I have not questioned Rep. Bachmann's migraine headaches. I don't think that is an issue. Now as to Rep. Bachmann's record. Look, she has done wonderful things in her life, but it is an indisputable fact that in Congress her record of accomplishment and results is nonexistent. If you go to my record in Minnesota you will see government spending went from historic high to historic lows. We transformed the court in a conservative direction, we did health care reform the right way--no mandates individually, no government take-overs and more. That's the kind of record we're going to need to contrast and beat Barack Obama.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa , Aug 11, 2011

ObamneyCare: ObamaCare was patterned after RomneyCare

Q: [to Pawlenty]: You've said that the president's plan and the Romney plan are so similar that you called them both ObamneyCare. And you also said this: "I don't think you can prosecute the political case against Pres. Obama if you are a co-conspirator. What have Mitt Romney & Obama conspired to do?

PAWLENTY: Obamacare was patterned after Mitt's plan in Massachusetts. And for Mitt or anyone else to say that there aren't substantial similarities or they're not essentially the same plan, it just isn't credible. So that's why I called it Obamneycare, and I think that's a fair label, and I'm happy to call it that again tonight.

ROMNEY: There are some similarities between what we did in Massachusetts and what Pres. Obama did, but there are some big differences. And one is, I believe in the 10th Amendment. And that says that powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved by the states and the people. The president took the power of the states away from them.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa , Aug 11, 2011

Romney and Obama plans are really just "ObamneyCare"

Q: [To Romney]: Gov. Pawlenty called your Massachusetts plan "Obamneycare". Is that a fair comparison?

ROMNEY: There are some big differences. Obamacare raises $500 billion in taxes. We didn't raise taxes in Massachusetts. Ours was a state plan; if people don't like it, they can change it. I introduced a plan to repeal Obamacare & replace it with a state-centric program.

PAWLENTY: Pres. Obama stood before the nation in 2008 and said he promised to do health care reform focused on cost containment and he'd do it on a bipartisan basis. This is another example of him breaking his promise.

Q: Why "Obamneycare"?

PAWLENTY: I cited Obama's own words that he looked to Massachusetts as a blueprint or a guide when he designed Obamacare.

Q: You chose those words, "Obamneycare," on "Fox News Sunday;" why is it not "Obamneycare" with Romney right here?

PAWLENTY: Using the term "Obamneycare" was a reflection of the president's comments that he designed Obamacare on the Massachusetts health care plan.

Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in Manchester NH , Jun 13, 2011

No top-down, government-run, limited-choice system

Q: You have had plenty to say about RomneyCare including this quote: "Looking at the Massachusetts experience, it would not be the one I would want for the country to follow any further" 84% of Massachusetts's residents are satisfied with the plan. So why not?

A: The answer to our health care problem is not to drag it into Washington DC and create a top-down, government-run, centralized, limited-choice, limited-option system. We took a different direction in my state of Minnesota: to empower individuals and families to make choices that are best for them. If they need financial help let's give it to them directly. Obama promised the nation that he would do health care reform, focused on cost containment. He opposed an individual mandate. And said he was going to do it with Republicans. He broke that promise. He and jammed down our throats one of the most partisan, one of the most misguided pieces of legislation in the country it is going to make health care worse, not better.

Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in South Carolina , May 5, 2011

ObamaCare's individual mandate encroaches our freedom

The individual mandate in ObamaCare is a page right out of the Jimmy Carter playbook. The left simply doesn't understand. The individual mandate reflects completely backwards thinking. They, the bureaucrats, don't tell us what to do. We, the people, tell the government what to do!

We're blessed to live in the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world. Our freedom is the very air we breathe. We must repeal Obamacare!

Source: Speech at 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference , Feb 11, 2011

Shop around for best price & quality, like we do for TVs

It is possible to stop the rising tide, by getting government out of the way and putting power back in the hands of the consumer, so they're given the incentive to make better choices. People like to have choices. We shop around for the best price and quality of television sets and clothing and car repairs. It makes sense that we should want the same options when it comes to health care.

For decades, our health-care system has been set up like an open bar at a wedding. People consume goods & service without knowing or caring about the price or quality, with no regard to who is paying the bill. Bill? What bill? The bill magically disappears to a third party. Obviously no such system is sustainable. Our government programs, including health care, need to look more like a cash bar than an open bar. Any system that creates the illusion that something is free when we know it's not really free is doomed to fail. Such systems defy what we know about markets and what we know about human nature.

Source: Courage to Stand, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, p.177-178 , Jan 11, 2011

Eliminated MN's General Assistance Medical Care

The Governor of Minnesota has an executive power at his disposal called unallotment. Minnesota law basically says that in times of fiscal crisis, the Governor has the authority to cut or delay spending. One of the unallotment line-item vetoes drew the most fire by far: I completely eliminated a program known as General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC). GAMC provided unlimited health care for low-income single adults without kids. GAMC's costs were rising over 30% per budget cycle! It was one of the many programs causing the state budget to be unsustainable. It was an old-style "fee for service" setup that paid providers for how many procedures they performed without much accountability. I had tried to get the legislature to reform GAMC for many years. They refused to listen or act. Now? I had their attention. The veto would not take effect for almost a year, so we had time to work something out. But the clock was now ticking. [We ended up] moving everyone covered by GAMC to MinnesotaCare.
Source: Courage to Stand, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, p.283-284 , Jan 11, 2011

2009 bill will break the bank, but not cut costs

Pawlenty strongly opposed the Democrats' health care legislation of 2009 and 2010. He cited philosophical and financial reasons for his opposition, that the bill would "break the bank." He said spending more money would not cut costs: "That's like you're saying you're going to balance the checkbook by writing more checks."

Pawlenty likewise opposed unfunded health care proposals in Minnesota. In 1994, he argued the Legislature should start over on health reform and pay better attention to costs.

Source: Sam's Club Republican, by J.A. McClure, p. 58 , May 10, 2010

2004: started state website to import Rx drugs from Canada

Pawlenty continually fought Congress, the FDA, and the pharmaceutical industry in an attempt to lower prescription drug costs. His administration set up a prescription drug website in 2004 to help Minnesotans access Canadian drugs. The FDA publicly scolded Pawlenty and demanded he shut down the website, smearing it as unsafe and "breaking both American and Canadian law." Pawlenty was defiant. He refused to shut down the site, delivered a speech in Washington, DC justifying his decision, and ultimately was joined by other governors who set up similar sites for their constituents. In July 2006, Pawlenty sent a letter to congressional leaders asking for a 2-year moratorium on advertising by drug companies, calling their ads "ridiculous and reckless." At the end of his first term, he said the pharmaceutical industry had "a power that would frighten most citizens."
Source: Sam's Club Republican, by J.A. McClure, p. 35-36 , May 10, 2010

Start toward universal coverage by covering all kids

As governor, Pawlenty proposed allowing Minnesotans to buy health insurance products from companies in other states, thus increasing competition in the health insurance market. He also advocated the establishment of an Interstate Health Insurance Compact that "would allow states to join and share common regulatory standards to facilitate the purchase of health insurance across state lines."

Pawlenty rejected the notion that government was going to provide helpful "competition" against private sector health insurance. He does, however, support some government involvement in the health care system. Upon re-election, he called universal coverage an admiral goal and said government could play a role by starting to insure all children: "We all, I think, can chart a path toward universal coverage. We're going to have to move in stages, We should start with covering all kids."

Source: Sam's Club Republican, by J.A. McClure, p. 59-60 , May 10, 2010

Supports market-driven healthcare reform

[We must] work together to pass health care reform that is market-driven, restores the relationship between doctors and patients, and uses savings from the system to hold down the cost of health care premiums.
Source: 2008 State of the State speech to Minnesota legislature , Feb 13, 2008

Expand coverage: purchasing pools &Medical Savings Accounts

Pawlenty has supported programs to subsidize health insurance for the working poor. To increase competition & hold down costs of health care, Pawlenty supports the following: laws encouraging small businesses and individuals to form purchasing pools; Medical Savings Accounts, which helps individuals use pre-tax income to pay for their preventive health care needs; and, reduction of state regulation on health plan companies.
Source: 2002 Gubernatorial website TimPawlenty.com, “On the Issues” , Oct 9, 2002

Extend SCHIP with full funding, plus $12B for Medicaid.

Pawlenty signed extending SCHIP with full funding, plus $12B for Medicaid

We understand that Congress is moving toward another temporary funding extension for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The nation's governors recommend the extension include sufficient funds so no state faces a shortfall during the time of the extension. Going forward, full reauthorization of SCHIP remains our top priority and we are hopeful that Congress and the Administration will continue discussions to ensure a sensible, bipartisan SCHIP reauthorization proposal is reached as soon as possible.

In addition, the series of recent Medicaid administrative changes represents a significant cost shift to states of approximately $12 billion in federal Medicaid spending over five years that governors strongly oppose. Sufficient time is needed to evaluate the proposed regulations and we request Congress consider imposing new and extending existing moratoriums on the proposed Medicaid regulations to provide this opportunity.

Source: Letter from 4 governors to House & Senate leadership NGA-0712HC on Dec 17, 2007

Delay Medicaid changes that shift costs from feds to states.

Pawlenty signed delaying Medicaid changes that shift costs from feds to states

The nation's governors urge you to include state countercyclical funding as part of your legislation to stimulate the economy. This would include $6 billion in Medicaid assistance by freezing scheduled federal FMAP reductions and increasing all states' FMAP as well as providing $6 billion in a flexible block grant.

The revenue reductions and Medicaid increases that accompany all economic downturns, in combination with state balanced budget requirements, are forcing states to cut spending as the economy weakens. These actions are procyclical and will make the current downturn both longer and more severe.

States already are experiencing the effects of the slowing economy. During the last two recessions, the state fiscal picture continued to deteriorate for two years after the recessions ended. If the current downturn follows the path of the two previous recessions, 35 to 40 states will face budget cuts in 2009.

In 2003, While we strongly believe that a more thoughtful and collaborative consideration of the issues raised by these regulations is in the best interest of the Medicaid program, there simply is not sufficient time during the remainder of the congressional calendar to fashion appropriate solutions. Your legislation delays implementation of the regulations to ensure Congress has sufficient time to act appropriately on the regulations.

Your leadership on this high priority of the nation's governors is very much appreciated.

Source: Letter from 4 governors to House Cmte. on Energy & Commerce NGA-0804HC on Apr 2, 2008

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Page last updated: Mar 14, 2014