Heidi Heitkamp Says Uninsured Tax She Doesn’t Really Like Isn’t High Enough


Liberal Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp sat down with her friends and allies at the Fargo Forum today and fed them what has to be one of the most convoluted, contradictory explanations for a policy position I’ve ever heard (you can watch video of her filibustering at the link).

First, Heitkamp made a claim he’s made before which is that she doesn’t really like the Obamacare insurance mandate (a concern she never expressed until she was on the ballot in an election year):

“I’ve never liked the mandate – in part because of where it came from,” Heitkamp said referring to the mandate’s origins as a proposal offered by a Republican think tank during the health care debate of the 1990s.

“It presupposes people don’t buy health insurance because they don’t want to,” Heitkamp said. “People don’t buy health insurance because they can’t afford it.”

But then, Heitkamp says that the mandate she doesn’t like isn’t high enough:

Heitkamp said the penalty for not having health insurance isn’t severe enough to incentivize people to get insurance, so it won’t work to meet the goal of reducing costs.

“It’s not going to add to the ranks of the people insured,” Heitkamp said. “You need to deal with making health care costs more affordable.”

First she doesn’t like the mandate, then it’s not high enough. Heitkamp is trying to have her cake and eat it too. But remember, Heitkamp has said that she wouldn’t vote to repeal Obamacare, but says the only reason she wants to keep the law is the so-called “Frontier Amendment” which adjusts rural state Medicare payments:

Heitkamp said Monday, “the single reason why I would not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act is the Frontier Amendment.”

The provision – lobbied for by North Dakota’s delegation and other rural states – fixed a decades-long inequity in Medicare reimbursements to states that provided good-quality care at lower costs.

So because of a tiny footnote in this enormous, government take over of health care Heitkamp won’t vote to repeal the law. That’s a pretty thin excuse.

But maybe the biggest whopper Heitkamp told during the entire interview is this suggestion that the Obamacare exchanges, which would create government-controlled markets for health insurance, are somehow the opposite of a government take over of health care:

She said it was a “tragedy” that state lawmakers voted down a plan to implement North Dakota’s health care exchanges during a special session of the Legislature last fall.

“I believe it was voted down for no other reason than politics,” Heitkamp said. “It was a political decision, because those exchanges were ready to go, they were bipartisan (and) every group – including Blue Cross Blue Shield – supported the formation of state health exchanges, in part because they don’t want a federal health exchange.”

“If you want to avoid a federal takeover of health insurance, you ought to do the state exchanges as a minimum,” she added.

Keep in mind that even if the state implements the health care exchanges, the federal government retains veto power over them, meaning that the feds are still 100% in the driver’s seat on the exchanges. The only thing the states can hope to win is the obligation to pay for the exchanges.

But whether we’re talking about a state exchange, or a federal exchange, we’re still talking about a government-controlled market for health insurance where bureaucrats decide what sort of policies you can buy and at what prices.

Heitkamp mentions that Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota is for the health insurance exchanges, but does anyone really think that’s because that company which has over a 90% share of the state’s health insurance market is for the exchanges because they’ll create more competition? Or does BCBS just want to carve out their place in a government controlled market?

Obamacare is the wrong policy for the state. Heitkamp’s positions on Obamacare are the result of cold political calculation. She was an outspoken proponent for the law until she decided it wasn’t politically convenient to be a proponent any more.

Her inability to be honest about her position is, frankly, almost worse than her original support for the law.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    She just carries water for the medical malpractice shysters.

  • Geoff

    I hate to say this, but I must agree. If, if, if this law is upheld, the ” uninsured tax should be way higher” exactly as high as the cost of a premium. And I hope they implement it prior to election time. The sooner the free ride society recognizes that this isn’t free, the quicker we can get rid of it. TAX THE HELL OUT OF EM,!! Go Heidi.

  • Emil Kashuntz

    What if affordable health care was the result of Obama’s efforts. The right wingers would pee their pants. Any success by Democrats could set off rational thinking and the rich may have to pay their share of taxes. Lying, distorting, and fear mongering are all fair when it comes to protecting the rich.

    • Glen

      What if obama’s affordable health care isn’t really affordable? Stay tuned for the actual cost of this boondoggle.

    • robertfrost

      Even if it is affordable, it still flies in the face of freedom. You have the right to not buy things you don’t want in this country, or, at least, you used to. To be taxed for not buying a product is the path toward socialism, and that alone undoes any supposed good that could come from this.
      What’s next, being taxed for not buying a car. Being taxed for not buying a TV. The government can very easily step in and say that you need a car for your own safety, and you need TV to get vital information at critical times. Since you’re compromising your own safety by not owning these things, the government will make ownership mandatory, and you will be taxed if you do not comply.
      No amount of good that comes from erasing the freedoms the country was founded on can be enough to undo the damage done.

      • Emil Kashuntz

        What about being forced to buy car insurance you simple dinger? What about being forced to pay for social security? What about being forced to pay for highways? You live in society, you pay for society, unless you are selfish.

        • robert108

          Typical liberal; needs to use force, because no one would choose to be subject to any of the liberal programs.

        • awfulorv

          Actually, if you don’t own a car no one forces you to pay for car insurance, unlike Obamacare.

        • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

          If you don’t own a car, or don’t drive on public roads, you don’t need insurance. If you don’t collect a wage, you don’t have to contribute to Social Security or Medicare.

        • guest

          Poor little willie. If you don’t want to be forced to buy auto insurance, don’t buy a car, use public transportation. You won’t have to buy gas without a car, so no gas tax for roads. You don’t want to pay social security, move back to where you came from before you and your family crawled under the border fence.

      • robert108

        Isn’t it up to the individual to decide what is “affordable”?

      • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

        Why did conservatives come up with this idea in the first place?

        I wonder what the presumptive gop Presidential candidate’s stand on Socialisticly erasing freedoms and forcing citizens to buy stuff they don’t want is.

        • Charles

          Being forced to buy stuff…like obama care. It’s about time you realized what your messiah is doing.

          • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

            Obama care, Obama care, say isn’t that the child of Romney care?

          • robert108

            No, it’s a gigantic tumor growing on our economy.

          • philipgray

            yes you are bob…you want me to get rid of it once and for all?

          • Charles

            Unlike the “parent” It’s the offspring you’re FORCED to support.

          • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

            Perhaps you should learn a bit more about the parent, Charlie.

          • Charles

            Perhaps you should learn more about the mooching child.

          • philipgray

            Unreality Bob….do you understand states right versus federal rights on the US constitution?
            When does reality slip into your socalled brain bob>
            There was a movie called What about BOB wasnt there?
            Had Bill Murray in it….sounds eerily like listening to the rants of Bob at times….
            Now that felt good…
            I would pay real money for idiot bob who thinks he is soooooooooo smart….to explain the concept of states rights versus federal rights….
            I bet he cant….too stupid

    • Gern Blanston

      There is absolutely nothing in Obamacare that will help lower the costs of medical care. Nothing.

    • philipgray

      Emil douche, I am a right winger, didnt pee my pants in combat and would love to see you meet me anywhere you want to show you I could make you pee your pants first punk.
      Name the time date and place you punk