Scott Brown Supports Major Parts Of Obamacare — Just Not Obamacare

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., speaks to reporters during a crucial test vote for the financial reform bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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Scott Brown supports many popular parts of Obamacare. But he says Obamacare is a “disaster.”

The former Massachusetts senator, who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), discussed his position on the Affordable Care Act in an interview with the local TV news station WMUR.

“I’ve always felt that people should either get some type of health care options, or pay for it with a nice competitive fee. That’s all great. I believe it in my heart. In terms of preexisting conditions, catastrophic coverages, covering kids, whatever we want to do – and a plan that is good for New Hampshire,” Brown said.

He added that such a plan — which he described vaguely — “can include the Medicaid expansion [for] folks who need that care and coverage.”

Brown’s comments reveal the dilemma Republicans face. He appears to endorse popular features of the law like covering preexisting conditions, insuring young people on a parent’s plan and expanding Medicaid. But he opposes the unpopular parts — including “mandates put on by bureaucrats in Washington” and the Medicare provider cuts — which were adopted to finance the well-liked provisions.

“It’s a disaster,” Brown said of Obamacare, adding: “We can do better.”

TPM reached out to Brown’s spokesman to ask how the aspiring senator wants to finance the popular parts of health reform in a way that doesn’t look like Obamacare. He didn’t immediately respond. Congressional Republicans have been looking for an answer to that question for more than four years but they’ve failed to coalesce around one.

It’s a difficult task. Health economists say requiring insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions is problematic if healthy people don’t also get covered; sick people are costly to care for and insurers would have to raise premiums. Hence the individual mandate. But many cannot afford insurance, so Obamacare provides tax credits for individuals up to 400 percent of the poverty line (of which the Medicaid expansion aims to cover up to 133 percent).

In 2006, Brown, then a state senator in Massachusetts, voted for Mitt Romney’s health care plan, which included similar core components as Obamacare: guaranteed coverage for sick people, an individual mandate to require they buy care and subsidies to help them do so. The plan, crafted by the conservative Heritage Foundation, ended up covering 98 percent of residents, funded by fees on insurers and hospitals as well as significant aid from the federal government. The financing options are, of course, different on a federal level.

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