The health plan he vows to repeal he once championed in Massachusetts
Mitt Romney’s argument for repealing the Affordable Care Act – in light of his own law to reform health care in Massachusetts – has the twists and turns of a thrill ride at Darien Lake.
To Romney, President Obama’s signature health care reform legislation is flawed because it mandates that all Americans carry health insurance and because the federal government forced it upon the states.
In making his arguments, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee wants Americans to forget his own record. But there are so many similarities between the Romney and Obama reforms that Romney appears to have developed selective amnesia as he panders to the conservative right.
Just as Obama’s legislation does, the signature piece of health care legislation that Gov. Romney passed in Massachusetts in 2006 required every individual to carry health insurance. While he seems to be running from this now, Romney wasn’t doing so in 2009 when he advised Obama to take some cues from the Massachusetts law.
Consider this piece that Romney penned for USA Today and directed at Obama: “The Massachusetts reform aimed at getting virtually all our citizens insured,” he crowed.
“In that, it worked: 98 percent of our citizens are insured, 440,000 previously uninsured are covered and almost half of those purchased insurance on their own, with no subsidy.”
Romney pointed out that his law helped the poor buy their health insurance by redirecting money the federal government gives hospitals to care for the poor.
He went on to boast: “Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn’t have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages “free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others.”
Wasn’t that one of the overriding objectives of “Obamacare,” as the Affordable Care Act has been roundly dubbed by Romney and its many other critics, especially those in the Republican Party?
This page has expressed its own doubts about the fully named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Its projected savings are wobbly, the Supreme Court decision that could gut it is probably weeks or days away, and no one knows whether employers en masse will pay a fine so they can dump their employees’ insurance needs onto state exchanges.
If 80 million people are foisted into the state health exchanges (the number from the National Center for Policy Analysis), then Obama’s plan will cost nearly $2 trillion more than promised over 10 years. In that event, the act probably won’t provide patient protection, and it definitely will not be affordable.
Still, as governor, Romney saw the personal responsibility for all Americans to carry health insurance so as not to dump their health needs on taxpayers. Similarly, so did Obama. But Romney, in the grip of his party’s right wing, sees only the Republican Party strategy: Oppose anything that can help the country if it can be even remotely connected to Obama.
So “Obamacare” remains a constant rallying cry. And Romney will play along despite his record and the fact he provided a model for the nation to follow.