Based on the furiously repetitive trumpeting of this story today on social media among a few GOP politicos, some Republicans seem to have decided that they have a smoking gun in a 2009 committee vote of Mike Ross, then a Congressman from the Fourth District. They even made a YouTube video, complete with haunting piano music, that has 70 views as of this evening.
I assume they’re picking this up from a story yesterday on National Review’s The Corner blog, though it’s hardly breaking news. In July of 2009, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted down an amendment from then U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida (who incidentally was ousted in a primary in 2012 by a very crazy person). Stearns’s amendment to the House version of the healthcare reform law stated, “Nothing in this division shall prevent or limit individuals from keeping their current health benefit plan.” Ross voted no. In practice, it wouldn’t have made any difference in any case, since this isn’t the bill that became law. But whatever.
I’m not exactly the target audience so I’m probably missing the punch here. I mean, insofar as you think that the governor’s race should be a duel to see who hates hates hates Obamacare the mostest, Asa’s your man anyways. That’s a silly way to pick a governor, since one’s position on the Affordable Care Act is irrelevant to the task (unlike one’s position on the “private option,” which is very relevant, though one candidate refuses to take a clear stand), but there will surely be some who mostly vote based on anti-Obamacare bona fides. I just have a feeling those aren’t exactly likely Ross voters to begin with. Since Ross opponents already have a five-year-old committee vote to perseverate over, I don’t see how this moves the needle. Probably worth noting, by the way, that Arkansans can in fact keep their plan through the end of 2014 because of the allowance of “early renewals” by Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford.
Here’s the thing: “keep your plan” gimmicks generally make for dumb healthcare policy and are in any case meaningless since insurance companies can still discontinue a plan anyways, which they do all the time. Disruptions to the individual market for health insurance, where around 5 percent of Americans purchase insurance, were inevitable in any reform (in fact Obamacare is significantly less disruptive than something like Paul Ryan‘s approach). What we’re seeing now is the political power of status quo bias, but the individual market is currently a disaster. Changes to it are a good thing. I’m sure Ross will hem and haw, but he made the right vote on this.