Gingrich on Health Care Mandates, 2005

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 29 2011 1:49 PM

Gingrich on Health Care Mandates, 2005

Twelve days ago, David Corn spelunked into the Center for Health Transformation's web site and found the Insure All Americans Initiative. Newt Gingrich's think tank had come up with a comprehensive health care plan that would, among other things, "require that anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year must purchase health insurance or post a bond." The revelation didn't ding Gingrich, really, because his empire produces lots of white papers and quick hits. There was no proof that Gingrich himself explicitly endorsed the idea.

But here we go: A 2005 video from the annual "Health Care Ceasefire" series, in which then-private citizen Newt Gingrich and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton jawed about some ideas for health care reform.

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If I see somebody who's earning over $50,000 a year, who has made the calculated decision not to buy health insurance, I'm looking at somebody who is absolutely as irresponsible as anyone who was ever on welfare. Because what they've said is, A, I'm gambling that I won't get sick, and B, I'm gambling that if I do get sick, I can cheat all my neighbors. Now, when you talk to hospitals, a very significant part of their non-collectibles are people who have money, but have calculated it's not worth the cost to pay. And so I'm actually in favor of finding a way to say, whatever the appropriate level of income is, you ought to have either health insurance, or you ought to post a bond. But we have no right in this society to have a free rider approach, if we're well off economically, to cheat our neighbors.

This comes from Andy Kaczynski, the Oppenheimer of archival video research. It's not an idea that Gingrich still hammers out on the trail. Any port for a storm when it comes to Romney and health care, I suppose, but Gingrich's tendency to hear an idea and like it and repeat it hasn't proven as problematic for conservatives as Romney's actual record has.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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