New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown told a radio interviewer he wants to repeal Obamacare but continues to support Romneycare, the federal version of the law.
As a state legislator in Massachusetts, Brown voted for Romneycare, which served as the template for Obamacare. The broad architecture of the two laws — subsidies, an individual mandate and a fix for preexisting conditions — is similar.
“We need to repeal Obamacare and we need to put in place something that works for us,” the Republican candidate told New Hampshire Public Radio, calling the Affordable Care Act a “top heavy bureaucratic nightmare.”
But when confronted with the prospect that repealing Obamacare would harm New Hampshire residents who have preexisting conditions, Brown gave a curious answer, saying the state can adopt its own plan and apparently pointing to his vote for Romneycare as a good example (emphasis added below):
I know what you’re trying to say but I respectfully disagree. It’s something that’s very important our state and its citizens and it’s something that more than likely would be covered in any type of plan that we offered.
We need competition. We don’t have any competition. All of those things that you’re talking about, we can have good, smart people like you at the table and others at the table to determine what’s important for us and that is one thing that is important to me. I’ve already voted on something like that. I would continue to support that and I’m sure it’s important for other people.
He called for protecting preexisting conditions while “respecting our rights and freedoms and also doing it more competitively.”
Brown seems to be advocating for replacing Obamacare with a state version of the same law. His comments mirror the trouble that other Republican Senate candidates have gotten into as Obamacare insures millions of Americans: the party has not coalesced around a replacement, and without a replacement, repeal would strip benefits from the newly insured and those with preexisting conditions. The law remains unpopular as a whole, but several of its individual provisions are popular.
A spokesperson for Brown’s campaign didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
There are economic reasons for the similarities between Romneycare and Obamacare. Covering preexisting existing conditions is very expensive without bringing younger and healthier people into the system, which is why both laws have an individual mandate. But many people can’t afford insurance, so both laws also provide subsidies.
Jonathan Gruber, a MIT professor who helped write both Romneycare and Obamacare, has said “they’re the same fucking bill.” Gruber criticized Mitt Romney for campaigning in 2012 on a repeal-Obamacare platform while standing by his own similar bill, which Brown helped pass at the time. While running for president, Romney argued that states must be allowed to come up with their own solutions.