Romney's Health Care 101
May 12th, 2011
05:28 PM ET
9 years ago

Romney's Health Care 101

(CNN) – In a Thursday speech that was equal parts college lecture and campaign stump, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney issued a defense of the health care "experiment" he implemented while governor and slammed the Obama administration's health care reform law as a federal "power grab."

The potential GOP presidential contender said he would "issue waivers for all 50 states" to opt-out of health care reform on his first day in office should he be "lucky" enough to become president. He expressed the same sentiment in an op-ed for USA Today Thursday, which explicitly detailed his five-point plan.

Romney faced down criticism from fellow GOP hopefuls including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, as well as possible questions from conservative voters whom he may rely on for support, should he choose to run. He opened his address at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with an explanation of how the Massachusetts plan differs from one-year-old health care reform.

He joked that some may ask "I heard that your plan in Massachusetts is a lot like President Obama's plan," and question why he's so anxious to repeal it. And Romney responded with a lesson in American history.

"The people in America are sovereign," he said, explaining that the framers decided "states would be the laboratories of democracy and compete with one another."

"I'm convinced that the Obama administration fundamentally doesn't believe in that American experiment," he continued. "They distrust that states are the ones with the power to decide."

Romney countered criticism by asserting that the Massachusetts plan was such an experiment. Though his action was "a plan for the state of Massachusetts," he described health care reform law as "a power grab by the federal government."

And according to Romney, the differences between his plan and Obama's are many, but similarities exist as well-and he's not willing to apologize for one of them.

Though he "respects" those who believe he should've taken a different course as governor and realizes that his explanation is "not going to satisfy everyone," he would not reject the individual insurance mandate included in the Massachusetts plan - the pesky similarity to federal health care reform that serves as fodder for criticism from both sides of the aisle.

"It wouldn't be honest," Romney said. "I, in fact, did what I thought was right for the people of our state."

The 2008 presidential candidate attempted to put distance between the president and himself, while moving closer to his base, by calling the health care reform law "an economic nightmare" and the reason "why this recession has taken to so long to move on from."

He also insisted that his reform would "share some of the objectives" of the plan proposed by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, which he touted as including choice, inserting market dynamics, and keeping Medicare solvent.

Romney's silver bullet solution to health care reform is to drive costs down by encouraging "the consumer to care about the cost and the quality" of their own health care and to "get health care to work like a market."

In the end, he's confident that voters will see it his way.

"If I am the nominee on the Republican side of the aisle and I get the chance to debate President Obama, this is what we're going to talk about," he said.

"I'm confident that the people will say the Mitt Romney U.S. reforms, that's a lot better than Obamacare."

One potential opponent for Romney wasted no time in issuing a response to his speech.

Santorum released a statement following Romney's remarks that criticized his "work to institute the precursor to national socialized medicine."

"Both Romneycare and Obamacare infringe upon individual freedom and exponentially increase the government's health care cost burden," Santorum said.

"We need leaders who believe in the American people again, not the power of government to solve our problems…the Governor had the right to implement Romney-Obamacare at the state-level, but that does not make it the right thing to do."

Filed under: Health care • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. wannabepalin

    Whether you're a democrat or a republican, whatever you say in campaigning is only wishful thinking. They may all have the heart and intentions of doing great things and promising us the gold at the end o the rainbow, but once in office, that all changes. I think President Obama is a good example. He had so many great ideas and really believed he could do them all, or at least most, but once in office, realized all the hoops he had to go through to get ANYTHING done. And when they can't do what they promised, they are accused of breaking campaign promises. So remember in 2012 when you vote, no matter what your affiliation, you are not voting for campaign promises, you are voting on character, intelligence, some knowledge on foreign policy, etc; but please don't vote on promises. It's just unrealistic because the other side, again, no matter what side, will knock down your efforts.

    May 12, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  2. Chaos

    That's all that he could come up with out of all those focus groups and strategy sessions?

    May 12, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  3. elizabeth

    The difference is that the President paid for his healthcare plan.

    May 12, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. Sarah B.

    Hmm, as a Dem and a supporter of Obamacare, I'd like Romney to keep making this speech. He is a good advocate for the ACA! Individual mandate, personal responsibility, tomato tamato. Does anyone else remember when the mandate was a mainstream republican idea? Oh, but now, it's socialism. Yeah.

    May 12, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  5. mctaket

    He completely ignores our history! We tried States rights over Federal and it was a complete disaster. That experiment in democracy was our first constitution and was called the Articles of Confederation. Our states nearly destroyed each other and our new country. The "laboratories of democracy" blew up! To save our country, a new constitution was written which gave the Federal government greater power over the states. They understood then that to survive as a country, we needed to put the needs of the country as a whole over the needs of individual states.

    May 12, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. Truthwillsetyoufree

    Frankly many of the states leaders are very untrustable. They do thing for themselves without the public consent. Watch it everyday for the GOP...

    May 12, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  7. keeth in cali

    Romney distrusts himself. He's a chameleon. He'll change his color to suit the target audience du jour.

    May 12, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. Josh

    Let's face people, our economy crashed just like a car in a severe accident, (the worse possible car crash ever) and it takes money, commitment, and time to fix a crashed car-At least this president did not abadon the economy he is trying to fix it the best way possible. and if you think it would only take 2 years/with no govt spending to fix a crashed economy then you are nuts. Try it on your car the next time it crashes-just tell the mechanic that you want your crashed car fix right away with no expenses.

    May 12, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  9. raja

    Don't run from your past Mr Romney. You did what was good for people and do again what will be good for country i.e. strengthening the health care. Advocate for it.

    May 12, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. jimmydoda

    Also a well known tax cheat. Why exactly did Mass elect a governor that up to that point had been claiming to be a resident of Utah ? His excuse was it was just an honest mistake. Do you know anyone else who is dimwitted enough to mistake what state they are a resident of. This guy ain't president material. The GOP still has 0 candidates.

    May 12, 2011 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. Shaun C

    The US is still the only major western country without public healthcare. Do Americans enjoy being milked by HMO's, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies? The fragmented private system in the US is more expensive than anyone elses health care system. The public systems in other countries are not perfect, but at least their citizens are not financially ruined when they get sick or injured. Maybe it's a culture of selfishness? No-one cares about anyone else...I'm not sick or injured (right now) so why should I care...

    May 12, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  12. KC

    I don't have a problem with Romneycare as 77% of the people in his state wanted it. I personally prefer a leader who is wiling to try something that may work and fail then someone who sits in the background and lets people like Pelosi and Reid lead the way and then chimes in only at the end when he thinks it would be popular for him to do so. The one thing Romney will not have to worry about if he runs against Obama is defending his religion. Especially since it was Obama's father who took multiple wives at once and not Romney's.

    May 12, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  13. ADAP

    Thats why Medicaid and HIV drug assistance programs are a mess... The states have had their collective political pig hands in the mix, and corruption , inefficiency and outright abounds.

    May 12, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  14. steven harnack

    If these Republicans knew their own minds as well as they claim to know what President Obama thinks about everything they might start acting instead of constantly reacting with no to everything.

    May 12, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  15. Brian H

    How does Mitt feel about medical marijuana being left up to the states? Oh thats right.... only certain things should be controlled by the Federal Government.

    May 12, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  16. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    Anyone running for President has no place talking about "power grabs by the federal government." The job you're applying for is the person tasked with using the power of the federal government–i.e., the President. That's what Chief Executives do. I would ask Romney, what if a state wants to experiment with some policy that you, as a Republican, disapprove of? Will you let them do it without interference? I bet you wouldn't.

    May 12, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  17. Mike

    The Affordable Care Act is nowhere near "socialized medicine". The services, physicians, hospitals, insurers, medicine are all working under private enterprise. GOP politicians that call it "socialized" are counting on a lack of intelligence and critical thinking among the public.

    May 12, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  18. WA

    It's amazing that the Massachusetts plan seems to be working, 97% of Mass. citizens are covered, etc. But Mitt clearly was only trying to solve an objective problem - not looking ahead prudently to bringing his problem solving in line with the absolute insanity of his party.

    Mitt's problem isn't that he's not smart enough to be president. Mitt's problem is that he twists himself into pretzels to get the lunatic right to like him. He should figure out what's important and stick to it ... and if he gets nominated, great. If not, it's the party's loss.

    May 12, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  19. Dean

    If anyone seriously trusts their state government over the federal version, they need to slow down on the kool-aid consumption. Politicians are liars and thieves, all of them, whether they are state or federal. Pick your poison.

    May 12, 2011 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  20. Easy E

    I hope Mitt gets a shot. He's about as genuine as I have seen in a candidate. He's probably the best to help clean up spending problems in our government and get the economy rolling again. That's what matters most to me right now.

    May 12, 2011 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  21. Matt

    Why do the GOP have to lie so much about the President? Come up with your own ideas and stop attacking everything!!! So sick of the GOP and their clone Romney.

    May 12, 2011 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. liz

    Mit Romney needs to try growing up black anytime in 1960's USA and coem back and tell us anput not "trusting" the states

    May 12, 2011 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  23. carly

    another GOP moron! He would let all 50 states opt-out and basically assure that those who can not afford insurance return to the status quo: dying!

    May 12, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  24. Greenspam

    How ironic for Romney to say this. When some states passed the same-sex marriage amendments, Republicans in Wasington threatened federal law. I guess they trusted state rights in that case.

    May 12, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  25. Shirley

    I am so tired of POLITICIANS giving HYPOTHETICALS with no facts to back them up!! It's like they have nothing to say so better than nothing............................

    May 12, 2011 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
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