LAKEWOOOD, Colo.--Any illusion that the fight against the healthcare reform law was anything other than pure political posturing for 2012 was eliminated this week. The right-wing echo chamber has exhausted itself chest-thumping about the Virginia judge's ruling against the individual insurance mandate portion of the healthcare reform legislation. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, one of 20 Republican attorneys general spending taxpayer money on anti-healthcare reform lawsuits, bragged that the ruling bolstered his case against the individual mandate.
You know, that dastardly individual mandate that was a Republican idea.
It was the individual mandate that Republicans touted as a "personal responsibility" pushback to President Clinton's healthcare reform efforts in the '90s.
The individual mandate that was backed by Republicans from Richard Nixon to Mitt Romney as a free-market solution to controlling healthcare costs--until it was incorporated into healthcare reform by President Obama. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]
Or as the AP put it back in May, "Republicans were for the individual mandate before they were against it."
Dear Republicans: Hypocrisy much? Apparently personal responsibility no longer applies to forcing taxpayers and people who have insurance pay for your uninsured broken leg when you end up in the emergency room, or when proposed by a Democratic president.
In 2008, a blue ribbon panel of Colorado healthcare stakeholders released policy recommendations after 18 months of hearings and discussions on the healthcare needs of Coloradans. The people at the table included everyone from the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute to the Colorado Hospital Association to the Colorado Association for Commerce and Industry. The 208 Commission, as it was called, was chartered by Republican Gov. Bill Owens and put in motion by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter.
The 208 Commission's number one recommendation to control rising healthcare costs? Requiring all Coloradans to have insurance.
This November, Colorado voters had their say on the issue, and rejected revoking the individual mandate by defeating Amendment 63. Amendment 63 would have tied the hands of Colorado policy makers, prohibiting the state from enacting many of the recommendations of the 208 Commission. This is why a number of 208 Commission members, including the chair, publicly opposed it.
So now we have Suthers wasting Colorado taxpayers' money on a politically-motivated lawsuit that was instigated by Republicans against a Republican idea--a lawsuit that runs counter to the will of Colorado voters and the recommendations of a bipartisan group of Colorado healthcare stakeholders. [See editorial cartoons on healthcare.]
This is exactly the kind of action that breeds voter cynicism about public officials. They're no longer interested in what works, or whether it's a practical idea, or whether something--like universal coverage--provides for the common good. They don't care whether they've supported an idea in the past.
All they care about is power and loyalty to their party. And Colorado healthcare consumers, like healthcare consumers nationwide, will be the poorer for it.