It’s no longer surprising when former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger breaks with Republican orthodoxy. In 2008, he quietly supported Barack Obama for president. This year he very publicly supported his long-time staffer (and IP nominee) Tom Horner for governor. And, in commentaries that he publishes sporadically, he has long-since embraced the Obama health care bill, once calling it not perfect but “the best we can do as a nation…right now.” He deemed it “reasonable, responsible — and Republican — even though it passed with only Democratic votes.”
Now that Tim Pawlenty has embraced the repeal of Obamacare as one of the central tenets of his undeclared presidential campaign, Durenberger accuses the governor of undermining Minnesota’s reputation as an important national laboratory for health care reforms. Durenberger’s calls Pawlenty’s current repeal-Obamacare position “appalling” and based on “outright bull.”
Here’s the excerpt, from the latest edition of the always lively and candid occasional series “Commentary from Dave Durenberger”:
MINNESOTA LEADS THE NATION IN HEALTH CARE INNOVATION
Or so many people involved in health system and health policy change have long believed. As a member of the Senate, I was always told my Minnesota health reform ideas were great. For Minnesotans. But they wouldn’t translate nationally. Minnesota has been a national leader in expanding coverage to nearly all residents (although there has been a lot of slippage the 8 years of the Pawlenty administration). We are leaders in care quality and safety initiatives and applying health plan and delivery system cooperation to bending the cost curve. In employer involvement in fostering employee choice, health management, and care coordination systems. In leadership in dealing with mental and behavioral health and long-term care. And in dealing with reducing the consequences of poor health on medical costs.
Listening to our Governor Tim Pawlenty run for president against this kind of health system and policy is appalling. As he said Sunday on national cable TV: ‘I think Obamacare is one of the worst pieces of legislation passed in the modern history of the country….It is a top down, command and control, bureaucratically run entitlement program.’ ‘I like people being in charge of their decisions.’ This is outright bull. Unworthy of the governor of a state that has been working hard to create many of the care system and access innovations that the ACA will help to fund with federal dollars as an example to the rest of the country. All on his watch. Much with prodding from the DFL legislature and from health provider groups in Minnesota who, by the way, endorsed ‘anyone but the Pawlenty heir’ for governor last month.”