Is this the time Governor Hickenlooper's penchant for endless hedging on controversial issues finally bites back? In an interview with Colorado Public Radio yesterday, the Guv said he would be opposed to a state-level health care mandate, a la Obamacare, if Obamacare's federal mandate is struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer.
Now Hickenlooper is trying to backtrack, but his own words are preventing him from doing so effectively.
Roll the transcript:
RW: Finally, Governor, the US Supreme Court next month is expected to rule on the big federal health law, the Affordable Care Act. And I want to zoom in on one part of the law. If the individual mandate is struck down, this is the requirement that everyone have health insurance, would you push for a state mandate like Massachusetts has. It’s been talked about in Colorado in the past. Is that something your administration would like to see?
JH: I’m not sure a mandate is the right word for it but I think we have said from the beginning we want to find ways to expand coverage to more people, to improve outcomes and most importantly to control costs. We are getting…
RW: But you’ve got to get people in the pool.
JH: You’ve got to get people in the pool but there’re a lot of different ways to do that.
RW: What would be an alternative to a mandate?
JH: Well I think if you can create a context where you make it easy for people to be in a pool and at the same time create a financial incentive to embrace that new system, in other words, there’s got to be some economic incentive. It’s got to be an enterprise that makes sense financially. Then it’s going to create momentum of its own. In the end I don’t think you have to mandate it, if it’s crafted properly. [Peak emphasis]
As soon as Hickenlooper starts describing an "alternative to a mandate" it should be pretty clear to any observer that he opposes an individual mandate requiring the purchasing of healthcare. He says you don't have to mandate health insurance and refuses to say he'd push for one at the state level.
How can you read that any other way than Hickenlooper opposes an individual health care mandate?
Hickenlooper's staff is trying valiantly to disown the Governor's own words, but it's just not possible.
Some members of the press are now playing into Hick's hands by calling it a he said, she said story (that's you Tim Hoover), when in fact it is just a Hickenlooper said story. Namely, Hickenlooper said he wouldn't support an individual health care mandate in Colorado.
That is news whether Hickenlooper likes it or not.