GOP hopefuls and health care

Kaiser Health News recently published an article on its website called, “GOP Presidential Hopefuls: Where They Stand On Health Care.”

The article, which is actually more of a chart, takes a look at the health care-related stances of five Republicans vying for the presidential nomination.

The chart includes Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul and Gov. Rick Perry, both from Texas, and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney.

The issues addressed are Medicare and aging, marketplace, health reform philosophy and Medicaid. The authors plan to update the chart to include additional topics and candidates.

The article offers a nice roundup of how the candidates have voted in their states and at the federal level and includes quotes related to their positions.

It’s definitely worth a read, even if just to introduce you to the candidates.

Here are some interesting pieces from the article:

Medicare and aging

Huntsman: Supported the August 2011 debt-ceiling deal, which leaves entitlement programs untouched in its first phase; the only GOP presidential hopeful to take this position.

Paul: Didn’t take part in Medicare when he practiced medicine; offered low-cost or free care to those who couldn’t afford his services. Proposes redirecting resources from defense spending and foreign aid to fund Medicare for those already enrolled, while weaning younger people away from such assistance programs in favor of free market approaches.

Perry: “I think every program needs to stand the sunshine of righteous scrutiny. Whether it’s Social Security, whether it’s Medicaid, whether it’s Medicare. You’ve got $115 trillion worth of unfunded liability in those three. They’re bankrupt. They’re a Ponzi scheme.” — Newsweek interview, Aug. 12, 2011


Bachmann: Cites her experience as co-owner with her husband of Bachmann and Associates, a Christian-based mental health care counseling center that employs nearly 50 people. Sponsored a bill in 2009 that she says would make medical expenses, including insurance premiums, tax deductible for everyone.

Perry: Promoted investments in adult stem cell infusion and helped pass a health care measure that authorized creation of a state adult stem cell bank. He also personally received lab-grown stem cells during a spinal fusion to help with a back injury.

Health reform philosophy

Huntsman: Signed in 2008, while governor of Utah, a law to overhaul health care and set up an insurance exchange –- one of only two in the United States.

Romney: Known for working with Massachusetts Democrats to enact the precedent-setting 2006 state law requiring most residents to have insurance. Argues that the federal law didn’t grow out of the Massachusetts law, saying the state reforms were tailored specifically to meet the needs of the state.

“Mr. President, if, in fact, you did look at what we did in Massachusetts, why didn’t you give me a call and ask what worked and what didn’t? … I would have told you, Mr. President, that what you’re doing will not work. It’s a huge power grab by the federal government. It’s going to be massively expensive, raising taxes, cutting Medicare.” — GOP candidate debate, June 13, 2011


Bachmann: Denounced last year’s decision by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to expand Medicaid coverage to nearly 100,000 state residents. Came under scrutiny after media outlets reported that the Christian counseling business she and her husband own received federal and state government funding, including Medicaid payments.

Huntsman: As governor, implemented a preferred drug list to steer doctors and patients toward lower-cost medications, curb rising costs of Medicaid.

Perry: Wants states to have more flexibility in administering Medicaid. Facing budget pressures, the state during Perry’s tenure as governor has relied on cuts to provider payments and controls on pharmacy expenses to rein in the program’s costs. Texas has the largest percentage of any state’s population that is uninsured, ranks 49th in Medicaid coverage of low-income people and ranks 49th in per capita state spending on Medicaid.

For the full article, visit the Kaiser Health News website.

Scroll to top