Don't Like Obamacare? It Was the Republicans' Idea, Says Liberal Democrat

By Susan Jones | October 28, 2013 | 10:12am EDT

Robert Reich served as Labor Secretary for President Bill Clinton. (AP File Photo)

( - Not a single Republican voted for the Democrats’ Affordable Care Act, but one liberal Democrat is  nevertheless blaming Republicans for the system that's debuted to so much criticism.

"While Republicans plot new ways to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, it's easy to forget that for years they've been arguing that any comprehensive health insurance system be designed exactly like the one that officially began October 1st, glitches and all," said Robert Reich, who served as President Bill Clinton's Labor Secretary.

Reich says Democrats should have insisted on a single-payer system because it would have been "cheaper, simpler, and more popular."

In a blog at The Huffington Post website, Reich wrote that Republicans have long argued for a health care system based on private insurance and paid for with subsidies and a requirement that the young and healthy people sign up. Democrats, he says, wanted to model health care reform on Social Security and Medicare, and fund it through the payroll tax.

Reich says President Richard Nixon in 1974, "proposed, in essence, today's Affordable Care Act." Thirty years later, then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, another Republican, "made Nixon's plan the law in Massachusetts."

Reich adds: "When today's Republicans rage against the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, it's useful to recall this was their idea as well," as proposed in 1989 by Stuart M. Butler of the Heritage Foundation.

"Now that the essential Republican plan for healthcare is being implemented nationally, health insurance companies are jubilant," Reich said, because they see opportunities for higher profits and expanded growth.

"So why are today's Republicans so upset with an Act they designed and their patrons adore? Because it's the signature achievement of the Obama administration," he says.

Reich's blog is entitled, "The Democrat's Version of Health Insurance Would Have Been Cheaper, Simpler, and More Popular (So Why Did We Enact the Republican Version and Why Are They So Upset?)"

Reich, now a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, advocates a single-payer health insurance system, such as "Medicare for all."

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