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Dewhurst Ties Himself to Supporter of Health Care Mandate Dewhurst Ties Himself to Supporter of Health Care Mandate

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Dewhurst Ties Himself to Supporter of Health Care Mandate

March 13, 2012

Updated at 6:31 p.m.

A former Houston neurosurgeon who has influenced Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's thinking on health care policy also supports the individual mandate portion of President Obama's health care law, opening the Senate frontrunner up to criticism from his Republican opponents.

The Dallas Morning News this week highlighted an interview Dewhurst gave to the Waco Tribune-Herald in which he cites Dr. Guy Clifton. Last year, Dewhurst shepherded a law addressing health care costs through the state legislature. The measure was shaped by Clifton's book on the subject and widely supported by Republicans.

In an interview with the Texas Tribune last year, Clifton said:

"I practiced in Houston, where there's a 30 percent uninsured rate. Uninsured people just didn't have access to decent care. When they could get into the hospital district, they got good care. But they couldn't get in. There's enough money in the United States that they ought to be able to. I completely agreed with covering the uninsured. I absolutely supported the individual mandate."

He also criticized the federal health care law, saying it lacked measures "that would really decrease health care costs." And Dewhurst himself has vowed to vote to repeal Obama's health care law if elected. But that may not matter to Dewhurst's opponents, who can point to Dewhurst publicly allying himself to a doctor who embraced one of the most toxic issues in Republican politics.

"The individual mandate is a job-killing government intrusion that ushers in the eventual government takeover of our healthcare system," said former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. "Texas needs a U.S. Senator who is not only committed to axing the individual mandate and fighting for the full repeal of Obamacare, but is also bold enough to offer specific, free-market solutions that will help bring down rising costs and premiums, and that is exactly what I've done."

"David Dewhurst has been a vocal advocate for European-style healthcare payment systems, so it comes as no surprise that his chief healthcare "guru" was a champion of the individual mandate in ObamaCare," said former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz's spokesman James Bentsen.

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