Romney once touted parts of 'Romneycare' as a national model
March 7th, 2011
09:33 AM ET
12 years ago

Romney once touted parts of 'Romneycare' as a national model

Washington (CNN) - Back in 2006, as a Republican governor in a deep blue state, Mitt Romney 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 the then-governor. The lynchpin of "Romneycare" was an insurance mandate that required the people of Massachusetts to get health insurance.

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. "The fact that we were able to get people insured without a government option is a model I think they can learn from."

When the president signed his health care plan into law, it no longer had a "public option." But it did have an insurance mandate, something many conservative Tea Party Republicans view as unconstitutional.

The insurance mandate in "Romneycare" wasn't a major liability in the governor's first presidential run in 2008 because "Obamacare" wasn't born yet.

With Romney now weighing another race for the White House, the former governor is crafting a new defense of his health care law. At a speech before Republican voters in New Hampshire over the weekend, Romney insisted his plan was designed for Massachusetts, not the country.

"Our approach was a state plan intended to address problems that were in many ways unique to Massachusetts," Romney said in his weekend address. "Our experiment wasn't perfect. Some things worked. Some didn't. And some things I'd change. One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover."

But in that 2009 interview, Romney clearly defended the mandate, referring to it as a "requirement" that allowed Massachusetts residents to secure a "tax exemption." In other words, if they didn't sign up for health insurance, residents would get hit with a tax.

"In order to get a tax exemption that you would normally get, you gotta have health insurance because we want everybody in the system. No more free riders. Everybody is part of the plan. And that way, we get the costs down. We let people know that they never have to worry about losing their coverage," Romney said in the interview.

Should Romney get the GOP nomination, Democrats hope "Romneycare" will soften opposition among independents and moderate Republicans to the president's health care law. How can you be mad at the president, Democrats will ask, when Romney did the same thing?

President Obama previewed the line of attack in a recent speech to the nation's governors who'd like to see some flexibility in implementing health care reform.

"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.

There are signs the issue could dog Romney well into the 2012 primary season, much as Hillary Clinton's vote to authorize the Iraq War hampered her run among some 2008 Democratic voters.

In his new book, "A Simple Government," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has a one-liner ready to go.

"It could be argued that if RomneyCare were a patient, the prognosis would be dismal," Huckabee writes.

Filed under: Health care • Mitt Romney
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    He was for it before he was against it. Typical Hypocrite Mitt.

    March 7, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. John

    Well, of course health care reform was modeled on the Massachusetts plan. In fact, in its original form, the Massachusetts model was more intrusive than Obama's, since his plan, unlike Hillary Clinton's, didn't originally include an insurance mandate.

    March 7, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Roscoe

    Going to be funny to watch him change positions again. Slippery as an eel.

    March 7, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  4. once upon a horse

    Mitt is going to keep trying to "tap dance" around this issue but it's going to follow him like his shadow. It's too bad because more people are accepting of the so-called Obamacare than the GOP is willing to admit. And Mitt has to play to that right wing base that HATES HC reform.

    March 7, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  5. diridi

    same as health care law we passed. Listen, if you have to say something, say it openly, but do not denigrate others. It is a republican trick. do not say, nelly said this connie said that, she is wrong, she is what extent you have a right to say opinion, she has the not stoop so low. All these years Republicans sold out this nation to Saudi for Oil, and Big cars, now you and I are paying the price at the pump. We should have gone energy efiiciency, long time revolution long time ago, i mean before, china india learn driving...o.k, now we need to fix...go energy saving..God bless!!! and the nation....Express openly.....

    March 7, 2011 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  6. Marie MD

    And the fun continues with the flip floppers and the put your foot in mouth disease of the recycled rethugs!!

    March 7, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    If his plan resembles ObamaCare, it is a horrendous plan.

    March 7, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. Al

    Mitt Romney the flip-flopper!

    March 7, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  9. d

    Poor Mittens!
    He's Toast!

    March 7, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The GOPers are the best sabotagers of their own political destinies.
    They are breathing and walking booby-traps liable to go off with little to no provocation, all it takes is just a little bit of digging.

    March 7, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  11. EddyL

    Romney is a pack of lies. My mother lives in Massachusetts and has no health insurance.

    March 7, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  12. mitchscove

    As much as ObamaCare supporters want to equate it with RomneyCare, there is that pesky 10th Amendment that states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." While the Commerce Clause has been stretched beyond limits of reason, if the individual mandate passes scrutiny by the SCOTUS, we might as well shred the constitution - because they will be saying that the Federal Government has the power to force citizens to do or buy anything they see fit because not doing or buying it could be considered interstate commerce.

    March 7, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  13. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    And we hear the sound of Flip-Flops as he approaches the podium. Hey, Mittens, didn't anyone ever tell you that just about every political speech made in the past 80 or so years has been recorded, so not only is there a written record of what you said, but an audio-visual one, too.

    March 7, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. carrotroot

    If Romeny becomes the GOP Presidential nominee then they Republicans will be taking the Health Care debate off the table. Mitt will just be left trying to debate the President on the economy, which has improved under Obama.

    March 7, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  15. kyle

    It's called being a hyporcrite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 7, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  16. Gary Davis

    this man is a classic DORK he should just stay in the nest of the Mormon cult . he is a puppet to big corporations and the church cult

    March 7, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  17. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It still required people to buy something. Personally, I think the current legislation needs some work, but I think that the personal mandate isn't a problem. What I would to have seen is that there been money set aside to help those enter the medical profession. We need more primary care doctors, nurses of all kinds and other medical support staff. We don't have enough to cover everyone.

    March 7, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. Zip

    Smart voters will Google "Mountain Meadows Massacre" Then you will know why Romney will never be president.

    March 7, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  19. Katie

    Romneycare isn't the only issue that will "dog" old Multiple Choice Mitt – those crackpots on the right will never elect a mormon as their nominee. (Not that mormonism is any more ridiculous than any of the other mainstream religions.) It's just not going to happen, he couldn't buy his way into the last election and all that money won't disguise the fact that he supported health care reform and is a mormon.

    March 7, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  20. Larry

    The republicans are not going to win the white house for a long time as long as their primaries continue to produce winners who are from the far right. As much as I can't stand Romney for being such a jerky two face, he is the only candidate who stands a chance to give Obama a run. All the other candidates are going to get blown out of the water if they make it to the general election.

    March 7, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. indydave

    This is really the only thing about Romney I like.

    March 7, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. CmonMAN

    Are the Republicans TRYING to sabotage the 2012 election? They must be. This guys is unelectible, as shown in previous elections. So now the top potential candidates are: Romney, Palin, and Huckabie? Get ready for the big O for another 4. What idiots.

    March 7, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  23. T'sah from Virginia

    What’s GOOD for the goose is GOOD for the gander!!!
    In 2009 Romney thought his bill was very candor
    Now he’s trying to run the other way – away from it all
    You can’t be “President” if you make Health Care your downfall

    I think more would respect Romney if he sticks to his guns
    Believe in what he accomplished instead of being on the run
    He should be PROUD – keep shouting out to all humans
    He has [“…ways to improve health care for all Americans”]

    President Obama is a very intelligent man!!! He will continue to PRAISE Romney – offer an OUT to the states so they set up their OWN Health Care, just like Romney – and President Obama will go on to win in 2012!!!!

    March 7, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. MOTO

    The thing is, there is no viable health care solution that doesn't include an individual mandate. You can blame the lawyers and cry about the constitution all you want, but as long as hospitals are picking up the tab for people without insurance, hospitals will continue to pass those costs along to everyone else. In other words, those who have insurance are paying for those who don't, so to control costs, you have to fix this problem. Why the GOP has an problem with this is unclear. Do they believe that health care is an option, a for-profit luxury? How that reconciles with support for pro-life policies is even more strange. You want the government to regulate pro-creation but not health? This all feels like an enormous inertia against change and progress.

    March 7, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  25. Latrice

    I wonder if people will see and understand his "distinctions" between HCR and his Romneycare. I think that one may already be a man down situation. But the crappiest part is that he knows it works because he made it, now he'll back away from it because he wants to be President. He should own it and try to show why its better; I hate people who back-peddal.

    March 7, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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