Window to Washington

An inside-the-beltway look at the legislative and regulatory process.

Candidate Cain has big plans for a certain date

By Jessica Zigmond
12 pm, Nov. 3

If he's elected president, Herman Cain wants to sign legislation to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—and he has a specific date in mind to do it, too.

“I am 100% behind and will sign legislation as soon as it hits my desk to repeal Obamacare in its entirety because it is a disaster,” Cain said in his remarks Wednesday to the Congressional Health Care Caucus, which hosted the Republican presidential hopeful as part of the group's “Thought Leaders” series. “And if Congress moves fast enough—hint, hint, hint—to get me to repeal legislation,” Cain continued, “I plan to sign the repeal on March 23, 2013 because it was on March 23, 2010 that President Obama signed that disastrous legislation into law.”

He added that the date is also significant for being his son's birthday.

Calling the law “fundamentally flawed,” the former chairman and CEO of the Godfather's Pizza chain said one of the Affordable Care Act's unintended consequences has been an increase in healthcare costs. He said he would replace the seminal healthcare act with market-driven, patient-centered reforms, although he didn't provide details of what those reforms would be. And, while Cain said Medicare should be restructured, he didn't give specifics.

No doubt there were other healthcare reporters in the packed room who also would like to have heard from Cain how he would reform Medicare, but the Georgia radio host—whose campaign this week was embattled by sexual harassment allegations—only took questions from members of Congress, not from reporters. (Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), a physician who established the healthcare caucus three years ago, said after the event that Cain's handlers indicated it was time to go and he couldn't force him to stay.) Meanwhile, Cain said Medicaid should be transformed into a block-grant program, a model outlined in the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) 2012 budget earlier this year.

A cancer survivor, Cain expressed support for the Empowering Patients First Act, a bill that Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a physician, introduced in July 2009 that, among other things, allow a tax credit for qualified health insurance costs to residents of a state that implements a high-risk pool, a reinsurance pool or some other risk-adjustment feature.

“It turns out that Dr. Tom Price of Georgia introduced legislation called H.R. 3400 that contains many of those patient-centered, market-driven reforms,” Cain said. “That's our starting point. That's the kind of legislation that I would love to be able to sign.”

Before taking questions from House members, Cain—who was very comfortable in the spotlight—first looked for a little love, asking if everyone was permitted to applaud. He got his wish.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), also a physician, will be the next speaker in the caucus' “Thought Leader” series on Nov. 15.

Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter @MHJZigmond.


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