The Truth-O-Meter Says:
Red, White and Blue Fund

"Gingrich supported individual health insurance mandates."

Red, White and Blue Fund on Friday, February 24th, 2012 in a campaign ad

Pro-Santorum super PAC ad says Gingrich supported individual mandates

The Red, White and Blue Fund, a super PAC supporting Rick Santorum, released a TV ad in Super Tuesday primary states charging that Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are just like President Barack Obama on many core issues.

Among them: "Like Obama, Gingrich supported individual insurance mandates."

This attack has been leveled at Gingrich before, and we’ve found it is correct.

His comments on the subject

In 1993, when the Clinton administration was trying to pass health care reform, Gingrich appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and addressed the individual mandate.
   
"I am for people, individuals -- exactly like automobile insurance -- individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance. And I am prepared to vote for a voucher system which will give individuals, on a sliding scale, a government subsidy so we insure that everyone as individuals have health insurance."
   
He went on to criticize Clinton’s plan as "destructively big-government." But he also said, "I would like to see every American have health insurance. I am willing to require that."

More recently, Gingrich joined a health care discussion with none other than Hillary Clinton in 2005 and said people should have to buy insurance or post a bond to pay for future care.
   
Quick comparison: An individual mandate requires people to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty. The bond idea also requires people to buy insurance, and if they don’t, to put up money to be set aside to pay for their future medical care.
   
Gingrich repeated his support for a bond in a 2007 column for his think tank Health Transformation.

"In order to make coverage more accessible, Congress must do more, including passing legislation to … require anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year to purchase health insurance or post a bond," he wrote
   
He advocated it again in his 2009 book Real Change: the Fight for America’s Future: "Those who oppose the concept of insurance should be forced to post a bond to cover costs. Allowing individuals to pass their health costs on to others reinforces the attitude that their health is not their problem and adds to the irresponsible, unhealthy behaviors that bankrupt the current system."  

This story in The Atlantic magazine reveals audio from a conference call Gingrich participated in that was hosted by Siemens Healthcare months after Obama's inauguration.

"We believe that there should be ‘must carry’ -- that is, everybody should either have health insurance, or if you’re an absolute libertarian we would allow you to post a bond. But we would not allow people to be free riders failing to insure themselves and then showing up at the emergency room with no means of payment," Gingrich said.
   
Finally, in May of 2011, while a candidate for president, he appeared on Meet the Press and called this concept "a variation" on the individual mandate.
   
"Well, I agree that all of us have a responsibility to pay -- help pay for health care. And, I think that there are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy. I've said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond … or in some way you indicate you’ll be held accountable," he said.
   
(That remark kicked up so much controversy in Republican circles that Gingrich released a video statement the next day clarifying that he is "completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals. ... I'm against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone, because it is fundamentally wrong and, I believe, unconstitutional.")
       
The bond option, we learned, has been kicked around for a while.
   
"A bond alternative was part of the Heritage Foundation's plan and was actually originally in (Mitt) Romney's proposal in Massachusetts but was taken out by legislature late in game," said Michael Tanner, a health policy specialist with the libertarian Cato Institute. "It is a modest improvement over a straight mandate since it doesn't require you to buy a specific product, but libertarians like me still found it objectionable."

Our ruling

Red, White and Blue Fund’s ad says "Gingrich supported individual health insurance mandates."

When we rated this before, we gave a Mostly True to Santorum's claim that "Speaker Gingrich for 20 years supported a federal individual mandate" because it was true for 20 years but Gingrich is now opposed. The wording is different for this one. The ad doesn’t put a timeframe on when he supported the policy, nor does it portray that as being his position now. As stated, it’s accurate. We rate it True.

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About this statement:

Published: Friday, March 2nd, 2012 at 4:20 p.m.

Subjects: Health Care, Message Machine 2012

Sources:

Red, White and Blue Fund ad, "Obama," Feb. 24, 2012

PolitiFact, "Rick Santorum calls Newt Gingrich a longtime supporter of insurance mandate," Jan. 24, 2012

PolitiFact, "Michele Bachmann says Newt Gingrich backed individual mandate in 1993, 2011," Dec. 11, 2011
   
PolitiFact, "Newt Gingrich says a "large number" of the uninsured make more than $75,000," June 15, 2011
   
The Atlantic, "Newt Gingrich Supported an Individual Mandate as Recently as May 2009," Jan. 30, 2012

Michele Bachmann, comments during a Republican presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Dec. 10, 2011
   
Transcript of NBC’s Meet the Press, May 15, 2011
   
Huffington Post, "Newt Gingrich Was More Supportive Of Individual Mandates Than Mitt Romney," May 12, 2011
   
Washington Times, "Gingrich responds to health reform," Oct. 4, 1993, accessed via Lexis-Nexis
   
New York Times, "Gingrich Seeks to Clarify Comments on Individual Mandate" (post at the Caucus blog), May 16, 2011
   
Mother Jones, "Newt's Big Whopper on the Individual Mandate," Dec. 10, 2011
   
Mother Jones, "Gingrich (in 2007): Congress Must Impose an Individual Mandate," Nov. 18, 2011
   
Newt Gingrich, "Covering the uninsured -- do we want markets or mandates?" June 25, 2007
   
E-mail interview with Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, Dec. 11, 2011
   
Washington Post, "Gingrich: I was wrong about mandates," Dec. 27, 2011
   
Forbes, "Gingrich now says he was 'wrong' to support individual mandate," Dec. 28, 2011

Washington Post, "Newt Gingrich’s changing stance on health-care mandates," Dec. 12, 2011
   
Real Change: The Fight for America's Future, Newt Gingrich, 2009

Written by: Molly Moorhead
Researched by: Louis Jacobson, Molly Moorhead
Edited by: Bill Adair

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