(CNN) - Mitt Romney is expected to tackle health care reform later this week, an issue that could be problematic for the probable Republican presidential candidate.
The former Massachusetts governor's presidential exploratory committee announced Tuesday that Romney will travel to Michigan Thursday to "present his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that lower costs and empower states to craft their own health care solutions."
And Romney officials confirmed to CNN that their boss will speak in Iowa on May 27. The visit will be Romney's first this year to Iowa, the state which kicks off the presidential caucus and primary calendar.
Romney's scheduled to speak at the State Historical Building in Des Moines. The story was first reported by the Des Moines Register Tuesday and confirmed by a Romney aide.
When he ran for the GOP nomination in 2008, Romney spent a lot of time and money campaigning in the state. He came in second in the caucuses, behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. But if as expected, he makes a second bid for his party's nomination, it's doubtful Romney will pay as much attention to Iowa as he did in 2008.
On health care reform, Romney's expected to outline his principles at an event at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. According to an email release from Romney aides, his proposals include restoring responsibility to the states, giving tax deductions to those who buy their own health insurance, streamlining the federal regulation of health care, reducing the influence of lawsuits on medical practice and costs, and making healthcare more like a consumer market and less like a government program.
Last month Democrats highlighted the fifth anniversary of the signing by the former Massachusetts governor of a universal health care law in the Bay state.
The measure, which has been criticized by some fellow Republicans, could hurt Romney with GOP primary and caucus voters if he decides, as expected, to make another run for the White House.
On April 12, 2006, the then Republican governor in a state dominated by Democrats and independents, signed into law a health care plan that would insure almost every resident of Massachusetts. At the time, it was praised by supporters of health care reform as a landmark achievement for Romney. The lynchpin of the law was an insurance mandate that required the people of Massachusetts to get health insurance.
Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who has taken formal steps in running for the GOP presidential nomination, has been critical of the Massachusetts law, as has former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for the White House in 2008 and may make another bid for the Republican nomination in 2012.
Romney addressed his record in a March speech, explaining the law was a "state plan intended to address problems that were in many ways unique to Massachusetts."
"Our experiment wasn't perfect. Some things worked. Some didn't. And some things I'd change," Romney said. "One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover."
And last year Romney supported conservative candidates who wanted to repeal the president's health care reform law.
But in an interview with CNN in 2009, as Washington was debating President Barack Obama's health care proposal, Romney said portions of the Massachusetts law could serve as a model for the country.
"I think there are a number of features in the Massachusetts plan that could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans," Romney told CNN at the time. "The fact that we were able to get people insured without a government option is a model I think they can learn from."
Democrats, including President Obama himself, have recently praised Romney's 2006 law for setting the stage for health care reform on the national stage.
"In fact, I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he's proud of what he accomplished on health care in Massachusetts and supports giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions," Obama said earlier this year.
The strategy here appears to be two-fold: Hurt Romney in the battle for the GOP nomination by tying him to the national health care reform law, which is despised by many Republicans. Many Tea Party movement activists and other conservatives view the national law's insurance mandate as unconstitutional. If Romney wins the nomination, Democrats hope comparisons of the national health care law to what Romney did in Massachusetts will soften opposition by independents and moderate Republicans to the president's health care measure.
The insurance mandate in "Romneycare" wasn't a major liability in the governor's first presidential run in 2008 because Obama's health care law wasn't born yet.
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn