Romney on health care: Then and now
March 23rd, 2012
12:12 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney on health care: Then and now

(CNN) – On the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Republican presidential candidates are turning up the heat on front-runner Mitt Romney, blasting the former Massachusetts governor for providing a "blueprint" they claim led to President Barack Obama's controversial health care reform.

Among the attacks, rivals point to an op-ed Romney wrote in 2009, in which he recommended the Bay State's health care plan as a model for the federal government.

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In the op-ed, Romney wrote "the lessons we learned in Massachusetts could help Washington find" a "better way."

Romney essentially called on Obama to require Americans to buy insurance as part of the federal health care plan, imposing what Romney called "tax penalties" as a backstop.

Opponents use that argument to pin Romney as a supporter of individual mandates.

Romney made similar arguments in a 2009 interview with CNN's Jim Acosta, saying "there are number features in the Massachusetts plan that could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans."

He explained that the Massachusetts plan insured people "without a government option," though it did include a health insurance mandate, which some tea party Republicans find unappealing.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has especially pointed to Romney's 2009 op-ed in recent weeks and argues the former governor would be the weakest candidate to compete against Obama based on the issue.

On Friday, Santorum's campaign released a hard-hitting statement, saying "Romneycare = Obamacare" and leveled charges that Massachusetts now allows for "free taxpayer funded abortions" with co-pays starting at $50. Newt Gingrich's campaign has also attacked Romney over the abortion issue.

While Massachusetts does provide state assistance in abortion payments, the health care law that Romney signed in 2006 did not mention abortion coverage, according to PolitiFact. His campaign points out that an independent agency, the Commonwealth Connector, was responsible for developing criteria for state assistance on such matters, not the governor's office.

"Sen. Santorum is desperate to salvage his flailing campaign and all he can do is recycle widely-debunked claims," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement responding to Santorum's attacks Friday. "No matter how many false attacks he includes in his speeches, Rick Santorum cannot hide the fact that he is an economic lightweight who has zero job-creation experience."

Obama also referenced Romney's Massachusetts law this week, saying he designed the federal plan after the Bay State model and claimed Romney is "now pretending like he came up with something different."

On Friday, Romney penned another op-ed in USA Today, defending his actions as governor on health care and stating why he would repeal the federal law on his first day in office.

"President Obama's program is an unfolding disaster for the American economy, a budget-busting entitlement, and a dramatic new federal intrusion into our lives," Romney wrote. "To the extent that we have any federal regulation, it should focus on helping markets work."

Romney has repeatedly said on the campaign trail that the Massachusetts law worked well for his state, but he would not impose federal health insurance requirements nationwide, instead leaving states to create and regulate their own programs.

"Most Americans want to get rid of the (Affordable Care Act), and we are among those Americans," Romney said. "I want to get rid of it, too."

Also see:

Romney primary tactics insufficient for general election, Gingrich says

Romney pens op-ed to mark 'Obamacare' anniversary

Santorum doesn't let up on Etch A Sketch attack

DeMint calls for GOP assessment of race, praises Romney


Filed under: 2012 • Health care • Mitt Romney • Republicans • Rick Santorum
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    "Most Americans want to get rid of the (Affordable Care Act), and we are among those Americans," Romney said. "I want to get rid of it, too."
    ==============================================================================================
    Romney needs to hammer this home in EVERY speech he gives. Jobs, the economy and repealing this financial disaster. 57% of American want it GONE and this will carry Romney to the Whitehouse.

    BTW, Obama and the Democrats need to correct the scam they perpetrated on the American people when they named this the "Affordable Care Act". As we have now found out, it is REALLY the UNaffordable NOCare Act. Let this be a lesson to you America. If the Democrats name something, you will get the exact OPPOSITE of what they promise. It is a critical part of their smoke and mirrors show of deceit.

    March 23, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    I look at it this way. The more people that have their own private health care, the fewer people there will be using Medicare.

    March 23, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  3. macbil

    So, Gov. Romney I have a question for you. The healthcare law you passed worked for an individual state (Massachusetts), but wouldn't work on a national level? But, Gov., what if all 50 states each individually passed healthcare laws that were the same as Massachusetts? You'd be OK that they are "state solutions," but that, in effect, wouldn't that be a national healthcare law? Either you believe in what the law does or you don't. You can't have it both ways. Oh, wait, you're Gov. "Etch-a-Sketch" Romney, you can have it both ways.

    March 23, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. lkottis

    macbil – Romney didn't pass the healthcare law in Massachusetts – that was done by the legislature representing the people of Massachusetts. Romney did not stand in the way of what the people had chosen to do. And yes, if each state passed its own healthcare law by action of the people through their state legislators, that would be 50 separate, individual state programs under the continuing control of each state's legislatures, not a national healthcare law. Like drivers' license requirements – which is not a national drivers' license law. If and when the people of Massachusetts do not like the law, they can repeal it through their legislature – but as of now, it is supported by more than a majority of Massachusetts voters.

    March 23, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Republicans are *for* small government. Right? Republicans are *for* sending Medicare to the states, so that individual states can run Medicare in a fashion that is best for their state. Right?

    But doesn't following those ideas mean creating 50 little bureaucracies? Doesn't that meet their definition of big government? Yup and Yup. So, the next logical step would be to get rid of "big government" by eliminating those bureaucracies! Furthermore, since the states are doing it the federal goverment has no say in the matter. The end result is that Medicare is eliminated. Right?

    March 23, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. michelle

    what a bunch of hypocrites! if it's good enough for ONE state, and it is working well in that state, then it should be good enough for the rest of the country. Obama's attempt to reform healthcare does not even go far enough. Universal medical coverage works and I should know, I was born and raised into it. Stop the politics and give the people what they deserve.

    March 23, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. cam519

    Cute play on words, but millions of americans now insured whereas before they weren't. Who do you think foots the bill when the hospitals write off unpaid emergency room bills which people have to accrue because they can't afford private insurance for a PHP. Ideas and policies like the ACA are the steps we need to take as a country to even remotely catch up to the rest of the developed world in the terms of developing universal nationwide healthcare. Leaving it up to private insurance companies only sees the cost of healthcare rise while the quality and reach of care falls.

    March 23, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. A modest proposal

    How about a compromise. We get rid of the individual mandate, but no longer require hospitals to treat those without insurance. The government then goes along with setting up it's programs, so that everyone can get cheap, affordable, health insurance. And if you are too dumb to buy-in, then the rest of us don't need to pay for your decision.

    When I was in college, my appendix nearly exploded. It was scary. It was *expensive*. If I wasn't fortunate enough to have health insurance, there was no way that I could have paid for it. Instead, the rest of you would have had to foot my bill. Is that fair? Well, yes, it is fair when people can't afford health insurance.

    So let's follow this modest proposal. Make health insurance cheap and affordable, and if you then choose not to buy-in, you die.

    March 23, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. anagram_kid

    Gov. Romney said, “Most Americans want to get rid of the (Affordable Care Act)…” Such hyperbolic statements are yet another example of the unprofessional lowbrow approach of his campaign. I have to wonder if even realizes how far he has strayed from his true disciplined self. I have no doubts that Gov. Romney is an intelligent person and it is a real shame that the GOP is so overrun with anti-intellectuals that the candidates have to sink to their level to win a campaign.

    As for the meaning of his statement, I don’t know all Americans, but I can honestly state that I don’t know a single American that believes it is OK for insurance companies to deny coverage when they determine it is a pre-existing condition.

    March 23, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. travis

    Amen Truth and Nothing But the Truth.

    Very well stated!

    March 23, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth
    "Most Americans want to get rid of the (Affordable Care Act), and we are among those Americans," Romney said. "I want to get rid of it, too."
    ==============================================================================================
    Romney needs to hammer this home in EVERY speech he gives. Jobs, the economy and repealing this financial disaster. 57% of American want it GONE and this will carry Romney to the White house.
    BTW, Obama and the Democrats need to correct the scam they perpetrated on the American people when they named this the "Affordable Care Act". As we have now found out, it is REALLY the UNaffordable NOCare Act. Let this be a lesson to you America. If the Democrats name something, you will get the exact OPPOSITE of what they promise. It is a critical part of their smoke and mirrors show of deceit.

    @Truth and Nothing But the Truth
    And you would support this double standard .

    Mitt Romney on Wednesday defended his five sons' decision not to enlist ... "The good news is that we have a volunteer Army and that's the way we're keeping it !

    What's the chance that a man who claims to be patriotic and want to keep America strong never felt the need to serve in the military..

    The same goes for medical care , what country are we INDIA ?

    March 23, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. The King

    "the perfectly lubricated weather vane" as Huntsman referred to romney, has demonstrated so often that he is willing to say anything to please his audience of the moment, that his integrity is beyond salvation. Since his charactecter has been so thoroughly impeached, he has nothing else to offer than to try to fling GOP issued slime at President Obama.
    If Obama takes the high road, continues to un-bush this country, he'll win this election by a landslide.

    March 23, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. MTGrammy

    It doesn't matter what anyone says, anyways. Federal mandateds health care is going away when the republicans take office. Let the states deal with it. if that is what they want.

    March 23, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. Jason in Hawaii

    There are several differences between "Romneycare" and "Obamacare." The most important is financing. Romney inherited a 3 billion dollar deficit and turned it into a 2 billion dollar surplus. When MA was at least 1 billion in the black, Romney introduced "Romneycare" (When MA could afford it). Obama inherited a 9 trillion dollar debt. He never put the budget in the black and rammed "Obamacare" through anyway. Now we are nearly 16 Trillion in debt and are projected to be 20 Trillion in debt by 2016. There is yet to be a balanced budget since Obama took office. In fact, there hasn't been a budget passed in over 1000 days! Obama needs to GO.

    March 23, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. MLangley

    I love how many aspects of his healthcare plan are represented in the federal one, how he suggested the federal government use his plan as a basis, and now he's flip flopping on that. All because it's not popular to be supportive of the health care bill and be a republican, even if many aspects of it that people disliked the most (like the mandate) came from bills you supported and pushed lol. Politics at its best right here.

    March 23, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair

    "I look at it this way. The more people that have their own private health care, the fewer people there will be using Medicare."
    ------
    Man, when you're wrong, you're wrong. Medicare Part A is given to everyone over age 65 free. Part B is relatively cheap and nearly everyone who is eligible buys into it. You cannot get into either part unless you're aged 65 or have end-stage renal disease. What in the world are you talking about????

    March 23, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. Andy Smith

    If I were a citizen of Mass, how does a state mandate differ from a federal mandate? That's the difference Romney claims, right? In my opinion, a government mandate is a mandate, regardless of the origin (state or federal or local). And also, I actually think a federal mandate is the better route to go, so that Americans can feel free to move around this great country of ours without worrying of moving to a state or local government that doesn't support similar services as your previous state or local government supported. There shouldn't be a punishment for living in an area where the other inhabitants don't see the benefit of something.

    March 23, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. jim

    I've heard people say that Obamacare lowerd their health insurance and I've heard the opposite. Mine is actully lower this year.

    March 23, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. DENNA

    The only decent thing Romney has done is Romneycare. I love how the GOP has convinced people that healthcare is a bad thing. Hey, tell them Obama does NOT want them to set themselves on fire and I'll bet GOPers will be pouring gasoline on themselves and lighting matches just because President Obama says that's a bad thing to do. Not real smart, are you?

    March 23, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. MikeRavens71

    MACBAIL: I really doubt all 50 states will adopt the same health plan because each state is different with its own needs....Romney always said his healthcare plan that he passed in MASS with the support of the people of that state is ONLY good for MASS not a federal mandate one size fits all for all 50 states.....what part of that should be decided by states and let the people decided if they want to pay higher taxes for it you dont het? .......Obama wants to force all 50 states a huge federal mandate of one size fits all that will increase our debt higher and borrow more from China......Romney said each state should decide how they want to handle it not the federal government.

    March 23, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. MikeRavens71

    there is a huge difference of a state mandate that the state residents want for their state and a huge federal mandate to force on all 50 states of one size fits all plan that will raise our debt higher making us more dependent on China.

    let the states decide what kind of health care reform they want for their state....If Mass wants it let their residents pay for it.

    March 23, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  22. MikeRavens71

    DENNA: healthcare is not a bad thing....having the federal government force all 50 states into this huge program that will raise further the debt is the debate.....this should handle in the state level not the federal......all 50 states are different and have different needs and different make up.....the federal government shouldn't mandate health insurance in my opinion.

    March 23, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  23. ST

    Folks, you should not be fooled by what Romney is saying: "I will repeal Obamacare". Really". This narration makes a person to give it a deep thought and analyse what this man is really saying. He sat down, he thought about, he acted and delivered. Now he tells each individual that he wants to repeal something he put efforts on it?? And what about those jobs he is taunting he created. Should he also repeal what he did there????

    March 23, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. FreeLove

    Mr Romneycare was for ealthcare refordm before he was againstt. Ah the human etch a sketch

    March 23, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Man, when you're wrong, you're wrong. Medicare Part A is given to everyone over age 65 free. Part B is relatively cheap and nearly everyone who is eligible buys into it. You cannot get into either part unless you're aged 65 or have end-stage renal disease. What in the world are you talking about?
    -------------–
    Do you understand why Medicare was even created in the first place? Obviously, not.

    It was created because seniors would retire, and no private insurerers would pick them up. People would retire, and then be forced to spend their life savings on end of life health care. Despite the fact that they may have paid for health insurance their entire lives and never had any major illnesses. Nothing more serious than annual checkups.

    March 23, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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