Mike Huckabee on Health Care

Republican AR Governor

Healthcare reform requires cultural change over a generation

In Oct. 2007, AARP sponsored what was supposed to be a major health forum in Iowa. Only John McCain and I agreed to even show up. While it was a shame that the other candidates didn't come, Senator McCain and I talked about the problems and possible solutions to the country's healthcare situation.

The kind of change we need isn't merely a programmatic switch, but a cultural change, one that will take a generation to accomplish, not just an election cycle. And here we run up against one of the dirty little secrets of politics. People who run for office like to champion issues that they can address during their term of office.

In my own lifetime, I have witnessed at least four major cultural changes: the campaign against littering; the rise of the use of seatbelts; the ban on indoor smoking; and the raised awareness of drunk driving. These contain some important lessons in how to bring about really big cultural change of the kind we need to transform healthcare in this country.

Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p.177-179 , Nov 18, 2008

Ok to ban smoking from workplaces, but not to ban smoking

Q: Back in August you were asked: “If you were president in 2009, and Congress brings you a bill to outlaw smoking nationwide in public places, would you sign it?” You answered, “I certainly would.” And then a few months later, your office says, “The governor believes that this issue is best addressed at the local and state level.”

A: I signed a similar bill in my state which said that we are not banning smoking, we are protecting clean air in the workplace. I still believe that there is a fundamental right that people have to do damage to themselves, but they do not have a right to do damage to others in a workplace.

Q: But you would sign a federal law?

A: If it were about a clean air workplace, not about banning smoking. Because the point is, and I know it may sound trivial, but it’s important to me philosophically that you’re not telling an individual what he or she can’t do, you’re saying what you cannot do is to infringe upon the right of another to have clean air.

Source: Meet the Press: 2008 “Meet the Candidates” series , Feb 10, 2008

Called for isolating AIDS carriers in 1992, not quarantine

Q: When you ran for the Senate back in 1992, you called for quarantining AIDS patients. Do you stand by that now?

A: I didn’t say that we should quarantine. I said it was the first time in public health protocols that when we had an infectious disease & we didn’t really know just how extensive it could be, that we didn’t isolate the carrier. Now, the headlines started saying that I called for quarantines, which I did not. I had simply made the point that in the late ‘80s, when we didn’t know as much as we do now about AIDS, we were acting more out of political correctness than we were about the normal public health protocols that we would have acted--as we have recently, for example, with avian flu--I spent months as a governor dealing with a pandemic plan that we were looking at which called for isolating carriers if they contracted that disease. I’m not going to recant. Would I say it a little differently today? Sure, in light of 15 years of additional knowledge, I would.

Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews , Dec 9, 2007

1/3 self-insured; 1/3 don’t want it; 1/3 can’t afford it

Q: What can be done to provide coverage for the 47 million people don’t have health insurance?

A: Of those 47 million, one-third don’t have it because they are self-insured. Another one-third don’t have it because they think they’re healthy and invincible. There is one-third that don’t have it because they can’t afford it. And then there are a lot of people who have insurance, but they’re underinsured.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

Crisis from waiting until people are catastrophically ill

The biggest problem we have in this country is not a health care crisis, it is a health crisis. We spend $2 trillion a year on health care, and 80% of it goes to chronic disease, which means that what we really have to begin dealing with is turning the system right side up, because it is upside down focused on waiting until people are catastrophically ill, & then we try to rush in with the most expensive modalities possible.

What we need to be doing is putting the real focus on preventing the illness in the first place. It’s the difference between either putting an ambulance at the bottom of the hill or building a fence at the top. We can afford universal coverage, but not until and not even close until we first have health, rather than just focus on health coverage. Let me say the last thing we need to do is to believe that Michael Moore’s idea is good and we can all go to Cuba and get health care. I don’t mind shipping him down there, but the rest of us I’d like to get our care here.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

FactCheck: 2/3 of uninsured can’t afford insurace, not 1/3

Gov. Huckabee hypothesized, “Of those 47 million uninsured, 1/3 don’t have it because they are self-insured. Another 1/3 don’t have it because they think they’re healthy and invincible. There is 1/3 that don’t have it because they can’t afford it.”

We asked Huckabee’s campaign how he knew that 1/3 thought they were “invincible,” but we’ve received no response. We can find no studies that support the “invincibility” theory. [The closest is that] about 3 million people are uninsured because they decline available workplace health insurance.

Huckabee also errs in claiming that only 1/3 can’t afford insurance. About 2/3 of the uninsured are considered low-income families. Huckabee would be correct to say that 1/3 of the nonelderly uninsured are living below the poverty level.

Huckabee’s claim that 1/3 of the uninsured are self-insured is a meaningless statement. In fact, anyone without health insurance must rely on their own resources to pay medical bills. That’s what being self-insured means.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

We don’t have a healthcare system; it’s a healthcare maze

We don’t have a health care system. We have a health care maze. And we don’t have a health care crisis. We have a health crisis. 80% of the $2 trillion we spend on health care in this country is spent on chronic disease. If we don’t change the health of this nation by focusing on prevention, we’re never going to catch up with the costs no matter what plan we have.

The reality is it’s a health crisis, and I would further say that one of the challenges we face is that a lot of the Democrats want to turn it over to the government, while the Republicans want to turn it over completely to the private insurance companies.

I think the better idea is to turn it over to each individual consumer and let him or her make that choice. I trust me a lot more than I trust government or a lot more than I trust the insurance companies.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando, Florida , Oct 21, 2007

Individually-controlled insurance, not government SCHIP

Q: President Bush last week vetoed the SCHIP plan to expand health coverage for millions of lower-income children. Would you?

A: The president was caught in a tough political battle. Unfortunately, the issue wasn’t about children; the issue was about political posture. Many of the kids who would be covered under the expanded SCHIP are people who already have insurance. If I were president, I would never let that get to the point where that’s the only option you have.

Q: But if it got there, would you have vetoed the bill?

A: I’m not absolutely certain that that’s going to be the right way. There’s a real problem in the health care issue where Democrats say they want the government to control it. Some Republicans say, we want private insurance or businesses to control it. The real answer is: let individuals control their own, and let them own it. That’s the real need, because I don’t trust government and I don’t trust the insurance companies. I trust me with my health care.

Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan , Oct 9, 2007

Portable medical records that YOU own, not your doctor

We need to have portable medical records so that your health care records go with you. They don’t stay with your doctor. You shouldn’t have to ask permission to see the records of your own body. Those are your own records. They don’t belong to anybody else.
Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

System is upside down; focuses on intervention after illness

Q: What does your health care plan contain to address racial disparities in access to care?

A: The first problem with our current health care system is that it’s upside down. It focuses on intervention. We wait until people are catastrophically ill, and then we spend enormous amounts of money trying to fix them. We need to be putting the money on the preventive side. Prevention is a lot less expensive than is intervention. The second thing, there has to be ownership of the individual consumer. As long as the government, the employer, as long as the doctor is in charge of your health care, and you have no idea what it costs, and you have no idea what they’re doing, and you don’t control it, we’re never going to get the system fixed. And the third thing that has to happen is that we have portable medical records. And the policies that we can put in place have to start with individuals buying in, not only on insurance, but buying in on health, their own personal, to start with.

Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

Oppose mandated health insurance and universal coverage

Q: Nations with socialized medicine reduced the cost of their healthcare systems by restricting patients’ access that needed treatments and healthcare rationing. Will you protect the availability of needed medical care by opposing current efforts to subject Americans to government-mandated health insurance and universal coverage?
Source: 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Insurance reward for avoiding tobacco, alcohol, obesity

Q: Healthcare consumes up to 17% of our GNP. It appears that lifestyles that are based in moral principles would reduce healthcare expenditures. Would you support a private healthcare approach that rewards behavior that promotes moral lifestyles-- that is, avoiding alcohol and tobacco consumption, as well as obesity reduction, exercise and nutrition that promotes health?
Source: 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Co-led effort against child obesity with Bill Clinton

Today, 12.5 million American children are obese, an additional 13 million are overweight, and more and more of them are developing problems normally found only in adults--high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, blindness, and loss of limbs. If childhood obesity continues to increase, this young generation could be the first in American history to have shorter lives than their parents. To get the Alliance for a Healthier Generation off to a goo start, I asked the Republican governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, to co-lead the effort with me because I wanted an inclusive, nonpartisan effort; because he had implemented a good child-health program in his state; and because he was a great example: h lost 110 pounds, got off his diabetes medicine, and ran his first marathon at age forty-nine. After Huckabee left office, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also has aggressively tackled the childhood obesity issue, became the Alliance co-leader.
Source: Giving, by Bill Clinton, p. 37-38 , Sep 4, 2007

Give Americans Congress’ healthcare, or give Congress ours

Q: What do you think of Sen. Grassley’s compromise plan to cover 3.2 million more poor children by raising the cigarette tax, which Pres. Bush has threatened to veto--who do you side with, Pres. Bush or Sen. Grassley?

A: I’d like to side with the people of America who really are looking for a lot better action than they’re getting out of their president or Congress. You know, if you want to know how to fix it, I’ve got a solution. Either give every American the same kind of health care that Congress has, or make Congress have the same kind of health care that every American has. They’ll get it fixed. We really have an incredible problem because our system is upside-down. It focuses on intervention at the catastrophic level of disease rather than really focusing on prevention. So we’ve got a system that, no matter how much money we pour into it, we’re not going to fix it, until we begin to address the fact that this country has put its focus not on wellness, not on health, but on sickness.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

Dems want government in charge; GOP want consumers in charge

Q: What’s the biggest difference or two that you see between the Democratic & Republican fields?

A: The Republicans want to win the war in Iraq; the Democrats just want to get out. That’s the big difference on Iraq. The 2nd difference I see is that the Democrats really want the government to be in charge of things like health care. They want them to be more responsible for choices about our doctors. And I think Republicans still want every individual consumer to be making those very critical decisions about “Who is my doctor and what treatment I’m going to get and where am I going to get it.”

Q: So you don’t accept the notion that Ralph Nader would suggest that there really is no significance difference between Democrats and Republicans?

A: Well, somebody would have had to have slept through both debates to think that there are no differences. There are clear differences. The good news is the people of America will have a contrast. And both sides are legitimately trying to talk about some issues.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Jun 10, 2007

ARKids: Prevention less expensive than sick children

Meetings in Arkansas brought forth a simple but revolutionary idea that gave children preventive care. The ARKids First program was born. I introduced it to the legislature in January, 1997. It passed without a negative vote.

As I prepared to sign the bill, I found myself reaching for a crayon and probably made history by being the first to sign a bill with a crayon. The crayon became one of the symbols of the plan.

The ARKids First program has been successful in insuring more than 60,000 children. Many actually welcomed the small co-payment that was required since it gave them a sense of responsibility and a feeling of not being on welfare.

I am convinced it is less expensive to prevent a problem than it is to try and fix it once it has grown into something much larger. The value of ARKids First will be easier to see as children grow up not having missed school because of chronic illness. Is it costly? It is not as costly as having large numbers of sick children.

Source: Character Makes a Difference, by Mike Huckabee, p.162-163 , Jun 1, 2007

Focus on health & prevention, not just disease treatment

The health care system in this nation is irreparably broken, in part because it is only a “health care” system. We have failed to create a “health system.” We focus on spending money to treat chronic diseases, but seem oblivious to the urgent need to focus on prevention of those diseases.

Most government grants are given to research for treatment of disease and to find ways to aggressively treat illness. Preventive medicine, until recently, was almost considered a form of quackery.

Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 58-59 , Jan 4, 2007

STOP the culture of chronic disease via self-discipline

Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 69 , Jan 4, 2007

The road to obesity is paved with procrastination

It has been said that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” but unquestionably the road to obesity is paved with procrastination.

One of the main reasons most of us yearn to get fit but never do is because we fail to STOP PROCRASTINATING. It is simply easier to plan on health and fitness but never to do it, by marking our intentions with a definite date in the future that we never seem to keep:

There is a good likelihood that if you procrastinate about health and fitness, you procrastinate about other things as well. Finally getting control of this unwieldy area of your life could mean a dramatic new opportunity to create personal discipline that extends far beyond your (hopefully shrinking) waistline.
Source: Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife & Fork, first chapter , May 2, 2006

To stop procrastinating: Set date; stick to it; and start!

I will be the first to admit that changing a lifetime of bad health habits isn’t easy. But it won’t be any easier tomorrow, next week, next year, or after one of those artificial milestones such as a graduation or special birthday. There are four basic principles that are essential to being able to STOP PROCRASTINATING:
  1. Set a very specific and definite start time for your program within the next two weeks.
  2. Share your start date with several trusted friends, family members, and perhaps your doctor.
  3. Start! After you set it and share it, start it! Don’t let anything keep you from this very important and hopefully life-changing appointment.
  4. Stick to it!
Even more difficult than setting a very specific time to start changing your eating habits is to stop procrastinating your personal exercise routine.
Source: Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife & Fork, first chapter , May 2, 2006

Nothing tastes as good as it feels to be healthy

One of my most thrilling accomplishments in my quest for regained health occurred during the first holiday season when I was taking care of myself and actually lost weight instead of gaining it for possibly the first time in my life. Because of the STOPs I had made and the steps I had taken, for the first time in my life I not only was able to resist the temptation.

As you can imagine, there is an extraordinary level of satisfaction from having people notice the improved appearance of personal fitness. There’s not a day that goes by in which I’m not approached by someone who says, “You look amazing.”

The former head football coach of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks said, “Governor, I found years ago that nothing ever tastes as good as it feels to be thin.” How true that is! Or, as I would put it, “Nothing tastes as good as it feels to be healthy.”

So STOP number one on the road to forever fitness is: STOP PROCRASTINATING--DO IT NOW!

Source: Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife & Fork, first chapter , May 2, 2006

We don’t have a health-care system but a disease-care system

It’s important to realize that the issue is not just insurance. The issue is that the whole model of our health-care system is upside down. We really don’t have a health-care system. We have a disease-care system. The insurance model that we use, we act like that if we insured everybody, we’ve fixed it. We haven’t. Because the real problem is that our model, both in the insurance model and the health-care model, waits until people are catastrophically ill before it intervenes. We really have to change the concept to a preventive focus rather than an intervention focus.

And that means the entire system starts working on health and wellness, because 80% of the $2 trillion that we spend on health care goes to chronic disease. We could prevent it or we could cure it, but we don’t. So it’s not an issue of there’s not enough money to cover people.

But if a real health care system exists, it has three components: It has affordability, it has quality, and it has accessibility.

Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate , Jan 5, 2006

Guaranteed medical care not government’s responsibility

Source: 2002 AR Gubernatorial National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 2002

ARKids First program: record decreases in uninsured

We led the nation in the percentage decrease of uninsured citizens, in large part because of the passage four years ago of the ARKids First program, which is one of the nation’s premier programs for health insurance. Many were thrilled when Columbia University released the report last year that showed Arkansas reduced child poverty more than any other state.
Source: 2001 State of the State address to the Arkansas legislature , Jan 9, 2001

Designed ARKids for preventive healthcare for kids

In 1996, there were 110,000 Arkansas children whose parents were working and had avoided welfare but whose income was not enough to afford adequate health insurance for their children.

These kids fell into an unfair trap. They were the children of parents who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to afford quality private health insurance plans. These were children whose chronic illnesses were often going untreated.

Since its conception in 1997, the ARKids First program has been incredibly successful in insuring more than 60,000 children.

The real value of ARKids First will not be seen immediately, but I’m convinced it’s less expensive to prevent a problem than it is to try to fix it once it has grown into something much larger.

Source: Living Beyond Your Lifetime, by Mike Huckabee, p. 97-99 , Oct 1, 2000

Supports consumer-driven “medical IRA” with tax-free money

The proposal which would give people an opportunity to have a “medical IRA” in which tax-free money could earn interest to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses, and the principal be used to purchase a catastrophic health insurance program, should be examined. Overall, I believe that the key is to create a more consumer-driven., less regulated situation.
Source: Responses to Associated Press Questionnaire for AR Senate , Nov 1, 1992

No additional AIDS spending; cancer & vascular victims first

At the present time, the per capita federal spending on AIDS is $15,450. That compares with $285 spent per capita on cancer victims, $33 per capita spent for victims of heart and vascular diseases, and $25 per capita spent on victims of diabetes. In light of the extraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seem that additional Federal spending can be justified.
Source: Responses to Associated Press Questionnaire for AR Senate , Nov 1, 1992

Ban smoking in all public places

As a long-time sufferer from extremely sensitive allergies to tobacco smoke (I take an allergy shot each week for this condition), I would like to see smoking banned in public places, or at least a requirement that smoking cannot take place when it would infringe upon the clean air of nonsmokers. For some of us, it is not a mere nuisance--it represents a very definite health threat. It should not be appropriate to indiscriminately blow toxic smoke on other people.
Source: Responses to Associated Press Questionnaire for AR Senate , Nov 1, 1992

Isolate carriers of this plague of AIDS

If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.
Source: Responses to Associated Press Questionnaire for AR Senate , Nov 1, 1992

No federal pre-emption of employee health plan regulation.

Huckabee adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

In 1999, 42.6 million Americans did not have health insurance. All states have been fervently working to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, to make health insurance more affordable and secure, and to provide quality health care at a reasonable cost to the uninsured. However, the federal government has also expressed an interest in this issue. Any action taken at the federal level could have serious implications for traditional state authority to regulate the health insurance industry and protect consumers.

NGA’s Position

Although the Governors are extremely sensitive to the concerns of large multi-state employers, the fact remains that the complete federal preemption of state laws relating to employee health plans in the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is the greatest single barrier to many state reform and patient protection initiatives.

The Governors support efforts designed to enable small employers to join together to participate more effectively in the health insurance market. In fact, Governors have taken the lead in facilitating the development of such partnerships and alliances. However, these partnerships must be carefully structured and regulated by state agencies in order to protect consumers and small businesses from fraud and abuse and underinsurance. NGA opposes attempts to expand federal authority under ERISA. The Governors have identified the prevention of such federal legislation in the 107th Congress as a top legislative priority.

States have the primary responsibility for health insurance regulation. Across the nation, Governors are working to protect consumers and patients and to properly regulate the complicated health insurance industry.

Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA13 on Oct 5, 2001

Protect state tobacco settlement funds from federal seizure.

Huckabee adopted a letter to Congressional leaders from 53 Governors:

As you know, preserving and protecting the state tobacco settlement funds is the nation’s Governors’ highest priority. We strongly urge you to reach final agreement and pass the conference report on the emergency supplemental appropriations bill soon, and to retain the Senate provision that protects our settlement funds from federal seizure.

Many of our state legislatures are currently in session, and some have already completed work on their budgets. Therefore, it is critical that conferees reach agreement quickly on this issue. Governors are unified in their commitment to ensuring that the funds remain in the states and that there be no restrictions on states’ ability to tailor spending to meet the needs of their citizens.

We offer our strongest support for conferees to recede to the Senate version of the bill containing the Hutchison/Graham bipartisan tobacco recoupment protection legislation.

Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 99-NGA31 on Apr 14, 1999

Other governors on Health Care: Mike Huckabee on other issues:
AR Gubernatorial:
Mike Beebe
AR Senatorial:
John Boozman
Mark Pryor

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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