Health Care Reform Champion Tommy Thompson Lies to GOP Donors

Jun 15, 2011

MADISON-Washington lobbyist Tommy Thompson, a chief proponent of the health care reform signed into law by President Obama, was caught lying to Republican donors in Washington Wednesday, claiming a newfound disdain for the very legislation he championed.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Thompson was seeking to mitigate the right-wing attacks against him from Scott Walker’s political machine as Thompson pursues the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.

“Either Tommy Thompson was lying back then when he supported President Obama, or he’s lying now when he tells Washington Republicans that his long support for health care reform is just a ruse,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Thursday. “For whatever lies he has been reduced to telling because of the attacks from the Scott Walker political machine, the nation is a better place and should be grateful for Tommy Thompson’s full-throated support of President Obama’s historic health care reforms.” 


Washington Post: “Thompson Has Long Been A Rare Republican Advocate For The Intent” Of The Health Care Reform Law.Reported the Washington Post, “But Thompson has one big problem — health care. President Obama’s health care law has become a touchstone for conservatives who see it as the most egregious example of the ‘government can solve our problems’ mentality of the current Administration. And, Thompson has long been a rare Republican advocate for the intent — if not the particulars — of the law.” [Washington Post5/19/11 (emphasis added)]

Washington Post: “Thompson Has A Long Series Of Public Statements On Health Care.” Reported the Washington Post, Thompson “met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the White House to discuss implementation of the law. He praised various Democratic reforms in the Huffington Post. He championed the Senate Finance Committee’s health-care bill as flawed but ‘important progress.’ And, in a joint September 2009 op-ed with former Democratic House leader Dick Gephardt, Thompson wrote: ‘Regardless of the divisive tone, Congress and the administration cannot afford to get sidetracked.’” [Washington Post5/19/11]

Thompson Supports The Individual Mandate. Last year on CNBC, Thompson urged Republicans to drop a move to repeal the bill “because President Obama is not going to sign it.” Two years earlier, he came out in support of an individual mandate — the heart of the Obama plan that conservatives are trying to strike down in court. [Politico, 5/18/11]

  • Thompson: People Could Be Required to Have Health Insurance. During a symposium in Orlando in September 2008, Thompson said, “Just like people are required to have car insurance, they could be required to have health insurance.” [Miami Herald, 3/23/2010]

Thompson Opposed Repealing Health Care Bill, Suggested Need to Wait-And-See How Law Turns Out. Thompson called on Republicans not to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. During an appearance on CNBC this morning, Thompson insisted that Republicans wouldn’t have enough votes on to override a veto of a repeal bill and suggested that the party should give the law a chance to be implemented:

THOMPSON: When it’s all said and done, you’re not going to be able to repeal health care because President Obama is not going to sign it. And they don’t have enough votes to override a veto, so why push a cart uphill when you know it’s not going to be able to get to the top? […] There is no question that people are very frustrated with health care, but I think the problem is, health care is still being written. There is so much that the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, has got to put together in the rules that most people are just bewildered by the magnitude of health care and how it’s going to play out. And so I think it’s going to be difficult, really to point at any particular thing except the $600, some of the questionable things, cut backs in Medicare Advantage that people are going to be addressing. But the overall health care is going to have take a wait-and-see attitude before all the rules are done and drafted and that’s going to take a lot of months of drafting and hearings and so on, so more of the health care care process is going to be taking place in the administrative side of government rather than in the legislative way. [Think Progress, 11/02/10]

Sebelius Praised Thompson’s Help on Implemenation of Health Care Reform. On the White House blog, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote, “I was pleased to join my colleague Nancy-Ann DeParle, who is overseeing health care implementation on behalf of the President, in hosting former Senate majority Leader Tom Daschle,  former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, and Dr. Mark McClellan, former CMS Administrator and former FDA Commissioner,  at the Department today.  They offered some great ideas about implementation and outreach, suggestions about strategies to make sure that the Affordable Care Act is successful, and I will continue to draw on their experience in the months ahead.” – [White House Blog, 6/30/10]

Obama Administration used support from Thompson as part of PR battle to pass ObamaCare. Administration officials said the White House is making a concerted effort to court high-visibility Republican support of the health care legislation away from Capitol Hill, in what appears to be a strategy similar to one used during debate of the economic stimulus plan earlier this year. President Obama noted support from Tommy Thompson in his weekly address. [New York Times, 10/5/09; White House YouTube Channel, 10/9/09]

Thompson Issued Bipartisan Statement Supporting Federal Health Care Reform. In 2009, Thompson issued a joint statement with Dick Gephardt supporting passage of the Senate version of the federal health care reform bill.

The health-care bill in the Senate represents another milestone in achieving meaningful health-care reform for millions of Americans. It is now critical that members of Congress work together in a bi-partisan fashion to pass a common-sense, fiscally responsible solution to drive down health-care costs, ensure access to affordable and quality care, increase efficiency and achieve real savings.

While we both have specific concerns with the bill in its current form, we believe a bipartisan consensus must emerge to address the health care crises in America. All evidence shows that the number of uninsured Americans will continue to rise and that skyrocketing costs will be simply unsustainable for American businesses and workers without Congressional action in the near term.

Any final bill passed into law must focus on both the human and economic impact, ensuring that access and affordability are achieved for employers, employees, and Americans currently without coverage. We can all agree that the opportunity before us is far too great to let specific differences stand in the way of reaching consensus legislation needed this year.

As the Senate takes up the bill, we urge Members to further reduce costs, waste, inefficiency and chronic disease prevalence through such measures as coordinated health teams at the family doctor-patient level. It is a proven idea that both business and labor have rallied behind, and will redefine the way we prevent chronic disease, eliminate unnecessary costs and deliver 21st Century health-care to millions who need it most. In short, coordinated health teams will tie together, and make real, disparate elements of health-care reform by providing a means to help eliminate costly fragmentation of our health care system once and for all.

Americans will look back with appreciation for those who set aside political interests to keep the process moving forward. Working together, it is time to show the nation that consensus legislation is possible, that ideas and bipartisanship far outweigh politics and, above all, that members of both parties rose to the occasion and got the job done. [Statement on Senate Health-Care Reform Bill By Tommy Thompson and Richard Gephardt, emphasis added]

Thompson: Need Health Reform to Cover Uninsured Currently Getting Coverage At ERs. In addition, he said, there are about 46 million people who aren’t covered by health insurance. If they get their care sporadically at emergency rooms without paying for it, everyone else makes up the difference in higher health costs. [LaCrosse Tribune7/25/09]