August 24th, 2007
05:09 PM ET
15 years ago

Romney unveils 'federalist' healthcare plan

Romney unveiled his healthcare plan Friday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - He was a chief architect of the universal healthcare plan in Massachusetts, but White House hopeful Mitt Romney said Friday as president he would put in place a policy that allows each state to dictate its own healthcare coverage.

"The insurance market has different mandates, so what works in Massachusetts probably won't work in Texas, it's going to need a different plan," Romney said as he laid out his healthcare proposal during a power point presentation before the Florida Medical Association.

The plan seeks to provide states with federal incentives to "deregulate and reform" their health insurance markets and tax breaks to encourage people to buy private insurance.

Romney also said the Medicaid program for low income Americans should be changed to provide states with block grants for creating their own insurance programs - unhindered by federal mandates.

In a statement released ahead of Romney's speech, the campaign characterized the proposal as a "federalist approach."

"His reforms will give states greater flexibility," the campaign said. "But Governor Romney's conservative reforms also make the states true partners in the effort to expand access to affordable, quality health insurance."

Romney immediately got attacked from his Republican and Democratic opponents.

“Mitt Romney's legacy is the creation of a multi-billion dollar government health bureaucracy that punishes employers and insists middle income individuals either purchase health insurance or pay for their own health care,” Dr. Scott Atlas, a health care advisor to former New York City Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said in a statement. “The former is a mandate, the latter is a tax, and neither one is free-market."

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards attacked the proposal while campaigning in New Hampshire Friday, saying Romney should "come here to New Hampshire and explain to the people I just met with why universal health care was good for the state of Massachusetts but it’s not good for the people of New Hampshire.”

Related: Romney looks to states to expand health care coverage

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Healthcare • John Edwards • Mitt Romney • Rudy Giuliani
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Tom Paine

    Romney is showing he's just another rePUKElican puppet for his corporate masters, like Cheney & The Shrub. By not promoting a NATIONAL plan, and allowing the INSURANCE COMPANIES decide how to do healthcare coverage in each state, we'll have NO CHANGE at all, and a continuation of the status quo where Insurers make billions from average Americans and enrich their billionaire CEOs, and the average Joe Schmoe gets worse coverage and has to deal with EVIL insurance companies refusing to pay.
    Thanks a lot Puppet Mitt !

    August 25, 2007 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  2. Rocco, Wellington, FL

    Everyone is a critic, but at least Romney offers a plan. What does Giuliani offer? Just more of the same. This country better start looking at what is good for the whole society and stop its greedy ways. Everyone in this counrty from the Street bum to the Corp greed of the CEO deserves basic health care, is it not time something was done about it?

    August 25, 2007 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  3. Hunter, Raleigh, NC

    His plan is ignorant and impossible. This shows how out of touch he is with states. Does everybody not realize that states pay 80% of medicare for patients in their state, and that is ALREADY such a huge portion of a state's budget. This issue could bankrupt many states.

    I'm not advocating for national health care or critizing anyone on here, but this is a very naive. Health problems do go across state lines, and no state would be able to afford this plan.

    August 25, 2007 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  4. Greg, Houston

    Mitt will say whatever he thinks will get him elected. Like all campaign plans, no details, just slogans.

    August 25, 2007 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Terry, El Paso, TX

    As a good Liberal I want people who can't afford good health care to get it anyway, especially children. I am glad that a variety of solutions are being proposed. Romney proposes that the states take the lead, despite the fact that he is running for President, not Governor.

    Under such a system, as we all know, New York and California children will be provided better health care than children from Texas and Mississippi, states usually found at the bottom of most lists).

    Conservatives argue that the PROCESS is more important than the OUTCOME. Providing health care to children from the STATE level is superior to that provided from the FEDERAL level. This argument is a phoney one, and it is used to obscure the real intent of the speaker. If we ignore it, we will be better off. "Consistently, Conservatives want control to be ceded to any level of government that favors their interest. Consistently, Conservatives favor lessened control of themselves by all levels of government. Consistently, Conservatives favor heightened control of non-Conservatives by every level of government." ( )

    To the Liberal, what matters is the OUTCOME, whether the process is located at the local or federal level. We do not care if excellent health care is delivered to children by the private sector, by churches, by local government, by the federal government, or by the YWCA. What we want to see is more innoculations, more checkups, fewer preventable illnesses, fewer days of school missed, better physical condition, fewer sports injuries, higher IQ's (intelligence is linked to nutrition), more pre-natal checkups, etc. Measurable progress toward the goal of better health is what we want to see. We don't need Constitutional arguments explaining why many of our children are destined to receive poor care, due to the brilliance of the founding fathers.

    To the Conservative, the important thing is not child health but what corporation gets the money and and how weak are the restrictions regarding its use? State government is much easier to bribe and manipulate, especially in the states that are traditionally at the bottom of every list, like my own Lone Star State. (I'm not talking about the conservatives who read this blog; I'm talking about the Conservative leadership that has convinced you that they really have principles.)

    I say, let's deliver health care to all children from every level. Over the years, we can evaluate the effectiveness of each program. And corporate good citizens can provide volunteer executive talent who can help us design the administrative structure of the delivery programs.

    As the father of American Liberalism said, "One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment... if it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along."

    August 25, 2007 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. Dave Fisher, Boston MA

    I'm pretty against this. What happened in MA was basically just a boost for the insurance companes, and state tax revenue.

    It doesn't give everyone helpcare. It does theoretically give some of the poor healthcare. However, I'm a 'contractor' and if I make over x, and don't get healthcare, then I have to pay more in taxes at the end of the year. So either I'm am forced to give the insurance company money, or the State.

    Romney's program isn't making the states more like Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Cuba, etc... It's making it so that the insurance companies have 100% enrollment rates. I do wonder how much stock he holds in some of those.

    August 25, 2007 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. David, Salinas, CA

    I agree entirely with the insightful post by Terry in El Paso, TX and thank him for the quote from FDR. This isn’t about playing politics or abstract philosophies, it’s about taking care of 40 million Americans in need.

    I’m still struck by Romney’s hypocrisy. The only thing that ever interested me about the guy was his health care plan in Massachusetts, and now it turns out he doesn’t believe in that enough to recommend it to Iowa or California. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since Romney said a lot of things in Massachusetts that are the exact opposite of what he’s pitching on the campaign trail. It’s not about what he believes, it’s about what he believes he can sell.

    I’ve come up with the perfect campaign mechanism for Romney: He should put up an interactive web site where voters can input their opinions on the issues that matter to them. Then the site will send them an email in which Gov. Romney agrees with all their positions. With this system, modern technology will allow Romney to pander to each and every voter individually. It’s the future of politics – every citizen gets their own personalized flip-flops.

    Even though I disagree with many of their positions, I can see how an honest Republican voter could support McCain, or Huckabee, or Brownback, or Hunter, or Paul, or even Giuliani. But I don’t understand why ANYONE would vote for Romney. He doesn’t believe in your cause. He doesn’t believe in anything. He’ll sell you out in a second if he thinks it will buy him a vote.

    August 25, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Terry from Texas, the quote at the bottom of your posting is perfect.

    All of the naysayers, be it bloggers or politicians, almost automatically hammer an idea if it is from someone whom they may differ with without looking at the substance and without offering anything to the discussion.

    "Run to my website and see what I think", I would rather hear it from their lips so we know it is actually their own thoughts and ideas and that they have a "clue" on what they are posting on their website.

    Many elders (my favorite group of people in the world as they have earned whatever we can provide, unlike our healthy young layabouts)do not have access to a PC, so where does that leave them?

    This is a start, not a handout to layabouts and do-nothings, but a structured "shell to build on".

    Just as your quote touched on.

    August 25, 2007 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Sorry fellow bloggers and bloggettes:
    I quoted the "Father of American Liberalism" in an earlier post, but did not identify him as President Franklin Roosevelt. The quotation was:

    "One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment… if it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along."

    Sounds like a plan to me.

    August 25, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. David, Bay Area, CA

    We don't need Constitutional arguments explaining why many of our children are destined to receive poor care, due to the brilliance of the founding fathers.

    Yes, that pesky Constitution shouldn't play a role in our government at all, ideally...

    If you really support the "outcome" over the "process", I'd imagine you'd be supportive of the current administration. Who cares about the rights granted to suspected terrorists if using outlawed torture techniques (the process) could potentially save American lives (the outcome)? The same for American's right to privacy if illegal wiretapping (the process) could prevent another terrorist attack (the outcome)?

    I've no Romney fan, but this is the first health care plan I've heard from any candidate that is a) actually a plan (unlike Clinton and Guiliani) and b) uses federal government power in an appropriate fashion to promote the general welfare (unlike all the other Democratic candidates).

    As the third distinct Californian named David to comment on this post, I feel I have some authority in this matter.

    August 25, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. Myron, Honolulu, HI

    We have to Stop the Cash Bleed to Vampire Insurance Companies.

    Insurance Companies make money by denying health care benefits wherever they can. Usually it is by not paying the doctor after the services are delivered. Stealing from your doctor can’t go on forever.

    Putting the burden on business means exporting more jobs and bankrupting business.

    August 25, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. Dan (Baltimore, MD)

    Canthis come up with an original idea? This sounds an awful lot like Rudy's plan. It's good, but not what he enacted in Mass, which was actually taken out of the dem playbook (e.g., a bad idea).

    August 25, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. Jason, Raleigh, NC

    We all need to wait and see how things work out in Massachusetts before we jump on this "mandatory" healhcare bandwagon. The plan in MA received huge influence from the insurance companies, so rest assured they are making out in the deal (even more).

    August 25, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. Big Red Great Falls SC

    Mitt Romney’s Health Care plan is just like the Prescription Drug Plan for Seniors of which I am one. It is designed to benefit insurance and pharmaceutical companies. If seniors get any benefit from it, well that’s just the way it is. No plan can be absolutely perfect.

    August 25, 2007 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  15. Terry, El Paso, TX

    I posted: "We don't need Constitutional arguments explaining why many of our children are destined to receive poor care, due to the brilliance of the founding fathers."

    Then David, Bay Area, CA posted "Yes, that pesky Constitution shouldn't play a role in our government at all, ideally… If you really support the "outcome" over the "process", I'd imagine you'd be supportive of the current administration. Who cares about the rights granted to suspected terrorists if using outlawed torture techniques (the process) could potentially save American lives (the outcome)? ..."

    David raises a good point. The Constitution controls the behavior of the elected and appointed men and women who are our government. I respect those who fear the power of government. I fear it too, though its power has been used in America, by and large, to my benefit, unlike the power of large corporations or religious groups who have been held in check by it.

    What I was trying to say it this: To the Liberal, our children are a sacred trust. It is imperative that every child who breathes American air and toddles on American soil receive the best health care. Liberals are not so icky about procedural issues. Those who are concerned about power flowing through proper Constitutional channels should help us invent a delivery system for children's health care that will meet their standards but which will still succeed.

    The test of America's child health care system is this: does every child receive all recommended preventative medical care? And, do all sick children receive the recommended treatments for any diseases, injuries, or deformities they may have? Health care can be delivered, as far as I am concerned, by any method as long as it is delivered competently and efficiently to all young Americans.

    Unlike Bay Area David, who seems to be a careful thinker, most Conservatives use Constitutional arguments to block laws and programs which they really oppose for other reasons. The real reason why most Conservatives argue that the "government should stay out of health care" are these:

    1. It might result in higher taxes. Most Conservatives belong to the "free lunch" club. They treat America as if it is a buffet at someone else's house.

    2. Government delivered health care is secular. Government clinics would probably provide abortions pretty much on demand. Ditto birth control. Ditto sex education. Ditto condoms. Fundamentalist messages associated with chastity, abstinence, and pregnancy would not reach the government's patients.

    3. The medical/pharmaceutical industry fears government oversight and price controls big time. They have a very nice thing going for them. They are raking it in.

    4. The old slippery slope. Give it to kids, then you have to give it to the kids' mothers don't you? And why not the father too? Give 'em an inch and they'll take everything we've got.

    However, if the Conservative leadership expressed these real reasons for their opposition, they might lose the argument. Supporting the wisdom of the founding fathers is much more respectable than a desire to save a few bucks by withholding medicine and medical treatment from sick children. The thing to remember about the Conservative leadership is this: they do not say what they think and they do not mean what they say. "Things are not as they seem; milk masquerades as cream."

    August 25, 2007 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  16. Steven in Charleston, SC

    So, let me see if I understand this.....if I am the owner of a company with employees in all fifty states, and I wish to offer health insurance to my employees, then I have to comply with 50 different health care plans? And this bright idea is from a "small government" conservative?

    I think that whoever said that the real idea behind this plan is to allow Romney to adapt his story state-to-state is right on the money.

    August 25, 2007 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  17. mike, coarsegold cal

    I have to agree with the core principle of Terry's post, but I have to disagree on the labeling of liberal vs conservative. I think EVERYONE, both left and right, want to see a workable health care system in this country. I think both the left and right have failed miserably up to now. Romney is at least giving it a shot. I think it's time to get off our butts, get to work, and quit with the petty labeling. We are all in this together, lets find a solution together.

    August 25, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  18. Eugene Elliott, Orlando, FL

    One of the largest costs in health care are the uninsured that show up in the emergency room for every ailment. They have nom insurance because they need to spend the little money they have on thin gs like food, housing and such luxuries. Rocco is right but did not hit this major point. I bet the guy making his comments from Rio, possibly his summer estate, never considered the poor people or elderly that this guy's plan does zero for. The GOP seldom considers anyone that cannot visit their 1000$ a plate dinners. To fix health care you have to get the greed out of the industry. That means more regulation, oversight and a Government run alternative for the poor. You have to stop forcing the elderly to pick between their prescriptions and eating. Go ask your mothers what a morally responsible person would do.

    August 26, 2007 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  19. Jim, Vientiane, Laos

    President Franklin Roosevelt. The quotation was:
    "One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment… if it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along."
    Mitt Romney actually made a plan to do something, instead of criticizing other people, and make fun of the healthcare plan. He plans it out, and hopefully will implement it when he gets elected.
    I see you bloggers said that he goes back on his words. Let us try this out. If State A have 10,000 people, State B have 9,000 people, and State C have 2,000 people, that we average out to 7,000 people. If we make a universal healthcare program for everyone, who will benefit the most? State C. Who will complaint the most? State A and B. But if we tailor the healthcare system to the States benefit, who will get the most out of it? The people that live in the states? Maybe that is why he said that, if one works in one state, it will not work in other states. He did not go back on his words. You have to treat people according to their needs, not treat them “universally”.
    If you think he is wrong, when didn’t you do something about it, instead of complaint about it, you can write letters of complaint to the state that you live, and see what other people have written in as well. So that way, all of you benefit. Use your democratic rights. Don’t complaint of what you didn’t benefit, complaint what you, your family, your relatives, and your neighbors did not benefit. Stop being selfish.

    Complaining will get you nowhere, Vote! Choose the right Candidate.

    August 26, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. Bill, Paoli, Pa

    Romney is suggesting to push down Federal responsibilities to the States and the States will push down the Healthcare responsibilities to the counties and there is the rub; the rich and poor counties in the USA. Guess whole has the better healthcare plans

    August 26, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    David, Salinas, CA wrote: But I don’t understand why ANYONE would vote for Romney.

    I think you are just nervous, knowing that Mitt Romney would beat hands down any one of the democratic contenders, either it is Hillary, Edwards, Obama, or Biden for that matter, as in your previous posts you wrote that you want a democrat to win the presidency.

    There are numerous reasons why citizens of our Good Land would want Mitt Romney as their next leader, our next president.

    As for myself (and my family) I truly believe that Romney’s approach to governing our nation will be solid and sound as it will be based on the already proven business, leadership and financial principles — experience that no other candidate possesses. I would certainly vote for Romney because I believe he will be the most credible and capable among the current candidates (both democratic and republican) to tackle problems head on that our politicians have swept under the carpet for decades.

    As the governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney turned a huge deficit into a balanced budget, while at the same time addressing major health care and educational issues at the state level.

    I believe that he will be open minded and his leadership will inspire new solutions in education, energy, and health care. He definitely manifests the ability to see where things are going and where they should be. Mitt Romney will do what the President of the United States suppose to do.

    August 26, 2007 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  22. Ron Nebraska

    I'm sorry, I'm just confused about how I pay for all my benefits, health care account, personal social security account etc. on wages that don't keep up with inflation ( which is still with us by the way! ) will these accounts be at a fixed price so my wages don't dteriorate further through the years?

    August 26, 2007 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  23. David, Salinas, CA

    Val Davydov of Agawam, MA addresses me directly, writing:

    “I think you are just nervous, knowing that Mitt Romney would beat hands down any one of the democratic contenders”

    I’m not the nervous type, Val, particularly in this political climate. I think any of the Democrats will beat any of the Republicans because of the obvious incompetence of the current administration, and the fact that all the Republican candidates support the war. Gov. Romney is in fact polling below Mayor Giuliani and Senator Thompson in both national polls and head-to-head match-ups with leading Democrats.

    With that said, I don’t like Mitt Romney. I don’t like him because he’s a purely political animal without an ounce of honest conviction, and I don’t think we should have a man like that in the White House.. I’d rather not see a Republican victory, but if I have to I’d sure rather have McCain or Huckabee or Giuliani because even if I don’t always like their politics, at least I respect them as men. I watch politics pretty closely and I don’t see much in Romney to respect. If you don’t believe me, spend a few minutes on YouTube watching him say all things to all people.

    Romney is the chameleon candidate. Put him down in a red state and he turns red. Put him down in a blue state and he turns blue.

    America deserves better than that.

    August 26, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  24. Ron R., Reno Nv.

    There are many excellent posts in this Romney health care thread.

    Has anyone been in an emergency room lately? You sit there looking at people who you KNOW are illgeal immigrants, and as such pay NO HEALTH CARE PREMIUMS.

    Just like we did with mandatory car insurance, EVERY man and woman in the US should have to pay a little to contribute to the revenue needed to treat us all . If these illegals want to be here, they too should kick in for the health care system, no?

    Correct me if Im wrong, former Gov. Romney is saying he suggests everyone to be required to have basic health care policy, but he also wants to give states the power to vote to do their own thing . Is see this as the epitome of liberty and choice. Isnt that what we're all about inthe US.

    August 26, 2007 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
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