Healthcare is a very tricky and awkward issue for Governor Romney. On one hand, he has repeatedly declared that a Romney presidency would signal the immediate dismantling of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare). On the other hand, thanks to the Romney’s line-up of challengers for the Republican nomination and the season-spanning 20 presidential debates, almost every politically aware Americans are convinced that Romney’s own health care legislation in Massachusetts is the progenitor of Obama’s health-care plan.
Romney has been at pains to point out that the Massachusetts health care reform that he actively pushed for - alongside the late Senator Edward Kennedy - and subsequently signed into law as Governor of Massachusetts, was a state-level solution for a state-level problem - and in no way does it endorse a federal health care mandate.
Further, Romney contends that his veto of the legislation’s penalty clause, among others, was overridden by the state legislature. However, detractors argue that Romney’s attempt was made well after the finer details of the legislation had been finalized and agreed upon by both the state Republican and Democratic legislators, and was nothing more than a symbolic pandering attempt.
In addition, Romney’s critics from within the conservative circles point to several anecdotal and statistical data that show rising premium levels in the state as a result of Massachusetts’ universal health-care plan. The increased regulatory red tape stemming from the introduction of the new Health Care Connector into the buying process has also been widely criticized.
Another issue that has been gnawing at Romney’s campaign is the lack of an alternative health plan, beyond sporadic campaign rhetoric. Romney, however, has indicated that he will be unveiling his health-care plan before the presidential debate in October.
Essentially though, Romney is a supporter of universal health care. However, he wants to delegate its implementation to state level. He is against financial penalties for those who fail to comply with mandates. And similar to the Ryan plan, Romney proposes to divert money from Medicaid and other federal source of funding to the states.
Nonetheless, Romney clouded his position on the issue during an interview with David Gregory on NBC’s Meet The Press in September 2012 by stating that he is “not getting rid of all of health care reform” and intends to keep several aspects of it, namely, coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions and extended family policies for adult children.
I want to thank the many, many people in this room who are critical in crafting and (unintelligible) the bold health care initiative that I’m about to sign. There are a lot of parents for this initiative, as you know, and I’m gonna mention a few by name, and just a tiny part of their contributions…… Senator Kennedy, together we pitched the secretaries on our vision to insure all our citizens and on the need for federal support to make the vision real. His work in Washington and behind the scenes on Beacon Hill was absolutely essential…… It’s now my pleasure to introduce my collaborator and friend, Senator Edward Kennedy. Senator…
April 12, 2006: Romney speaking at the signing of the Massachusetts health care reform bill in Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts.
Baier: About your book, you talk about Massachusetts healthcare, and we've heard you many times, in the debates and interviews, talk about how it is different in your mind than the president's healthcare law, Obamacare. The question is, do you still support the idea of a mandate? Do you believe that that was the right thing for Massachusetts? Do you think a mandate, mandating people to buy insurance, is the right tool?
Romney: Bret, I don't know how many hundred times I've said this too. This is an unusual interview. All right. Let's do it again.
Absolutely. What we did in Massachusetts was right for Massachusetts. I've said that time and time again, that people of the state continue to support it by about 3-1, but it's also designed for Massachusetts, not for the nation, and at the time our bill was passed, and that was brought forward as an issue, there were people who said, is this something you'd like to have the entire nation do? I said no. This is not a federal plan, it's a state plan. And under the constitution, states should be able to craft their own plans…
Baier: So, Governor, you did say on camera and other places that, at times, you thought it would be a model for the nation.
Romney: You're wrong, Bret.
Baier: No, no. There's tape…
Romney: No, the tape out there, continue to read the tape, and the tape goes on to say, ‘for each state to be able to look at’. I was asked time and again, in the last debates. Look back at the 2008 campaign, on the stage, I was asked at the debate ‘is your Massachusetts plan something you would have the nation do as a federal plan?’
Each time said no, the answer is no.
When you write a book, you have the ability to put down your entire view. And I put in that book as clearly as I possibly could, that the plan we did in Massachusetts had many features that I thought should be adopted by the states. I thought there were very good ideas in there. They could be a model for the entire… states
Baier: nation? You think that you are well positioned to go up against President Obama on the issue of health care?
Romney: Of course! The best, the best equipped. The best equipped. I understand healthcare. Spent a good portion of my career working in healthcare. I came out with a plan, unlike his, that doesn’t cost a trillion dollars. Unlike his, we didn’t raise taxes. Unlike his, I didn’t cut Medicare by half a trillion dollars. Unlike his, my plan’s constitutional. So what I did, worked for our state in the way the Constitution intends, which is states crafting plan that worked for their states – not a federal one size fits all plan…
November 29, 2011: Romney in an interview with Bret Baier on Fox News
David Gregory: A couple of specific areas on health care. You say that you would rescind the president's health care plan on day one. Does that mean that you're prepared to say to Americans, young adults, and those with pre-existing conditions, that they would no longer be guaranteed health care?
Gov. Romney: Well, of course not. I'd say we're going to replace Obamacare, and I'm replacing it with my own plan. And you know, even in Massachusetts, where I was governor, our plan there, deals with pre-existing conditions, and with young people.
Gregory: So you'd keep that as part of the federal plan?
Gov. Romney: Well, I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform, of course. There are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm gonna put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family, their family up to whatever age they might like. I also want individuals to be able to buy insurance, health insurance, on their own as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company.
Gregory: Well that brings us to Medicare, because one of the things you believed in was the idea of premium support or a voucher for seniors under Medicare is to achieve the goal of solvency. Direct question: if competitive bidding in Medicare fails to bring down prices, you have a choice of either passing that cost on to seniors, or blowing up the deficit. What would you do?
Gov. Romney: Well, let's stand back, first. There's nothing about seniors in our plan…
Gregory: You'd wait ten years to implement any plan?
Gov. Romney: … because there's no change for anyone who is retired or nearing retirement. It's only dealing with people in their 30s, 20s, 40s, and early 50s. That's the group we're dealing with and saying what's the best deal for them? It strikes me the best deal for them is to either buy current Medicare or to have a private plan. A lot like Medicare advantage today. I like Medicare advantage.
Gregory: That didn't drive down prices, governor.
Gov. Romney: Oh, it sure did. Actually what, what you're saying with Medicare today was Medicare part "D" the prescription drug benefit, is that congress, in putting this together, said look we're gonna allow companies to compete for a package of prescription drug benefits, and the cost that they've come up with is far less than anyone predicted. Competition, look competition works.
“His plan is not the plan I’ll put forward, I have my own plan… I’ll be putting that out before I debate President Obama."
Jun 2, 2011 : Interview with ABC News’ John Berman
“Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced.”
April 11, 2006: Op-ed for The Wall Street Journal
“Free enterprise is the way America works… We need to apply that to health care… Regardless of what they do, it’s going to be after the next president to either repeal and replace or replace Obamacare - and I intend to do both.”
June 12, 2012: Romney speaking to a group of small business owners in the warehouse of Con Air Industries, in Orlando, Florida.
Step 1: Give states the responsibility, flexibility and resources to care for citizens who are poor, uninsured or chronically ill. This reform speaks to the central advantage of our federalist system — that different states will experiment with and settle on the solutions that suit their residents best. Some states might pass a plan like the one we did in Massachusetts, while others will choose an altogether different route. We can empower states to expand health care access to low-income Americans by block-granting funds for Medicaid and the uninsured. My reforms also offer the states resources to help the chronically ill — both to improve their access to care and to improve the functioning of insurance markets for others.
Step 2: Reform the tax code to promote the individual ownership of health insurance. The tax code offers open-ended subsidies for the purchase of insurance through employers. This subsidy is unfair — as it doesn't apply to insurance purchased on one's own. I propose to give individuals a choice between the current system and a tax deduction to buy insurance on their own. This simple change creates the best of both worlds. Absolutely nothing will change for those who like their current coverage. And individuals who don't get coverage through their employers will have portable, lower-cost options.
Step 3: Focus federal regulation of health care on making markets work. This means both correcting common failures in insurance markets as well as eliminating counterproductive federal rules. For example, individuals who are continuously covered for a specified period of time may not be denied access to insurance because of pre-existing conditions. And individuals should be allowed to purchase insurance across state lines, free from costly state benefit requirements. Finally, individuals and small businesses should be allowed to form purchasing pools to lower insurance costs and improve choice.
Step 4: Reform medical liability. We should cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice litigation. The federal government would also provide innovation grants to states for reforms, such as alternative dispute resolution or health care courts.
Step 5: Make health care more like a consumer market and less like a government program. This can be done by strengthening health savings accounts that help consumers save for health expenses and choose cost-effective insurance. For example, we should eliminate the minimum deductible requirement for HSAs. The market reforms I am proposing will drive down costs, better inform consumers and improve the quality of health care in our nation.
May 11, 2011: Romney’s Op-Ed with USA Today, As first act, out with ObamaCare
On his first day in office, Mitt Romney will issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all fifty states. He will then work with Congress to repeal the full legislation as quickly as possible. In place of Obamacare, Mitt will pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens. The federal government’s role will be to help markets work by creating a level playing field for competition.
Restore State Leadership and Flexibility
•Block grant Medicaid and other payments to states
•Limit federal standards and requirements on both private insurance and Medicaid coverage
•Ensure flexibility to help the uninsured, including public-private partnerships, exchanges, and subsidies
•Ensure flexibility to help the chronically ill, including high-risk pools, reinsurance, and risk adjustment
•Offer innovation grants to explore non-litigation alternatives to dispute resolution
Promote Free Markets and Fair Competition
•Cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits
•Empower individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools
•Prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage
•Facilitate IT interoperability
Empower Consumer Choice
•End tax discrimination against the individual purchase of insurance
•Allow consumers to purchase insurance across state lines
•Unshackle HSAs by allowing funds to be used for insurance premiums
•Promote "co-insurance" products
•Promote alternatives to "fee for service"
•Encourage "Consumer Reports"-type ratings of alternative insurance plans
Mittromney.com, Health care