Romney blames successor for illegal immigrant health care
October 24th, 2011
11:51 AM ET
11 years ago

Romney blames successor for illegal immigrant health care

(CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's GOP presidential campaign is pushing back against a Los Angeles Times article that could prove troublesome.

"Medical help for illegal immigrants could haunt Mitt Romney" reads the headline Monday's edition of the newspaper. The story details a program in the 2006 Massachusetts health care plan (which then Gov. Romney signed into law) called Health Safety Net, which allows undocumented illegal immigrants to obtain needed medical care along with other people in the state who lack insurance.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the program cost more than $400 million last year and paid for 1.1 million hospital and clinic visits, but it's not certain how many illegal immigrants received treatment since Massachusetts does not record such data.

The Romney campaign was quick to react to the article, and to criticize Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, who succeeded Romney.

"Federal law requires emergency medical care for illegal immigrants. And if illegal immigrants are getting access to additional healthcare in Massachusetts, it's liberal Gov. Deval Patrick that has made it easier for them to do so. All of the regulatory activities involving the Health Safety Net Fund, including who could get care, were made long after Mitt Romney left office," said Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul.

In a statement, Patrick's spokesman said the law wasn't about immigration.

"The Health Safety Net fund, which was created by Massachusetts health care reform, reimburses hospitals and community health centers for medically necessary care provided to people unable to pay for it. It is not about immigration," Brendan Ryan said. "It is about good public policy and making access to health care universal for all members of our community."

The Massachusetts health care law, which critics dub as "Romneycare," has come under attack from Romney's rivals for the GOP nomination as the inspiration for the national health care law pushed by President Barack Obama and passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress, a measure that conservatives hope to repeal.

In last week's CNN/Western Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, Romney was also criticized by Texas Gov. Rick Perry over the issue of illegal immigration, when Perry brought back to life a story from the last presidential cycle, during Romney's first bid for the White House. In an angry exchange between the two candidates, Romney admitted that a landscaping company he hired years earlier for work on his Massachusetts home did employ illegal immigrants, but he said he fired the company when he found out.

The Romney campaign is defending the former governor's record on the issue, and criticizing Perry, who has come under attack by his rivals for the passage of a state law that gives in-state tuition at Texas colleges and universities to some children of illegal immigrants.

"Mitt Romney's record on illegal immigration is clear: as governor, he vetoed an in-state tuition bill for illegal immigrants and authorized his state troopers to detain people based on their immigration status. On the other hand, liberal Gov. Patrick has the same position on illegal immigration as Rick Perry – he favors in-state tuition and reversed an executive order to detain illegal immigrants – and neither can be trusted to deal with such an important issue," added Saul.

A couple of hours after the Romney campaign statement, the Perry campaign weighed in.

"Governor Romney's government-mandated health care plan provided free care for illegal immigrants in Massachusetts, establishing just the kind of illegal immigration magnet Governor Romney claims to oppose," said Perry spokesman Mark Miner. "Program rules established by the Romney Administration in 2004 clearly state that citizenship is not required for free health care and subsidies and health centers cannot consider citizenship before rendering that free care."

"When faced with the illegal immigrant benefits this morning, the Romney campaign tried to deny indisputable facts and to cover their tracks by blaming Gov. Patrick," added Miner. "The truth is Gov. Romney's plan intended to provide free health care to illegal immigrants, and the law and rules he approved were clear about providing free health care to illegal immigrants."

- Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN

Filed under: 2012 • Health care • Immigration • Mitt Romney
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Hey Independent from NH.... not so independent after all are you? Just so you know Romney's facts are subject to debate and are never considered iron clad. He lies like you suck up his pablum.

    October 24, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. dreucalypt

    How typical. To please the Right, Romney has to deny one of the few really decent things he did as Massachusetts Governor.

    October 24, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. The Greedy Old Pigs have lost their minds!

    This is too funny:

    "Are you looking for work? Underemployed? Fearful that your job is next on the chopping block? Up to your eye balls in credit card bills? Savings vanished?

    Support the guy who really knows how to turn around America.

    Support Mitt Romney."

    Wow, does he also remove lipstick stains and hide visible panty lines? Will he wipe away debts with a single stroke of the pen? Can he whip up a tasty and nutritious meal in less than 20 minutes. Talk about your "Messiah" and "Annointed One"!!! I think you may need a check up, dude.

    October 24, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. TxJim

    On behalf of the rest of illegals around the country, Gov. Romney we would like to thank you for giving us a job, so we can support or families back in our home country, and giving our families here in the US free health care. We know your Dad was a Mexican national as are many members of your family, so you are just taking care of your countrymen here in the states.

    We hope you intend to keep up the good work after you get elected president to do this on a national level, and we will be thankful. We look forward to you providing illegals with jobs, and free health care similar to the one you had in Massachusetts, which is now in place under the name Obamacare.

    We would reward you with votes, but we cant vote, sorry, but we do appreciate you taking care of us as if we were your family in Mexico. Thanks again Governor, Vaya Con Dios.

    John Doe Rodriguez

    October 24, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. nagrom

    Independent from NH mcd to the both of you. I live in MA and under the Romneycare days. Everything in this article is true. He started the health program that we are stuck with today. Not only that but he cut programs of health care causing lost jobs in nursing and disability payments to the needy. Talked out of both sides of his mouth then and now.

    October 24, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. stevetall

    Yeah. God-forbid we should ever give healthcare to a fellow human being in need. As bad as that is, what about all of us "legal citizens" who can't get healthcare? Open your eyes, people. We're being sold down the river by these greedy, self-consumed industry shills. They're all bought and paid for by the Koch brothers, promoting their pathetic concept of life on Earth. I mean really. How much money do these clowns need, and how much longer will we put up with this crap before we seize everything they've got and throw them into the tax bracket the rest of us live in? Where's Robin Hood when you need him?

    October 24, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. Larry L

    This brings back the question from a Republican debate... If a person has no health care insurance do you let them just die? How about the children of illegal immigrants? Conservatives pretend to practice the teachings of Jesus Christ and yet they can't answer this question?

    This is an example of why I see Christianity as a joke. I like the super hero but his fan club sucks.

    October 24, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. gg

    if americans do not have health care needs to be in the hospital who pays -or is it free

    October 24, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. Beantown Bully

    Did you even read the article???? What you've just said was what the Romney camp stated to deflect blame. If you read the article you would see that the provision in question was implemented by Romney when the program took off. How can you try to spin something, where the truth is a mere 12 inches up on your screen. You should really jump...

    October 24, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    There's a presidential move for ya! Blame someone else! Must be a Republican. At least Governor Patrick did something Romney never did: stand for re- election, and win into the bargain, so it obviously has not hurt him to expand the coverage.

    October 24, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Observer

    Are there ANY politicians left who own their decisions anymore. I'm ready to care EVEN LESS about party affiliation and just vote for someone who defends their decisions, right or wrong I don't even care anymore. The argument about healthcare for illegals is IRRELEVANT, just make an informed decision and stand by it! It's like these candidates (of ALL sides) glad-hand eachother and pat eachother on the back for a great decisions they made as governers or senators, but as soon as they go campaigning in a state that's not their majority, or hear some loudmouth from the opposite party raise alarm, they run and candy-coat and rationalize, and apologize and backpedal. What is it about this country that makes high-profile people petrified of admitting they were wrong? Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, GW Bush, Cheney, etc. Do Americans need (or expect) the President to be infallible? Because the world has a Pope already. Is the best politician one that has NEVER made a mistake? Ever? Or maybe just someone that has, but just never owned up to it?
    Regarding the issue itself, I think we should look a little deeper. Is illegal immigration a problem, yes. Are there people abusing the system, yes. But lets acknowledge the flip side. There are plenty of American citizens who abuse the welfare system, so lets not pretend illegal immigrants are the only ones doing it. Most states still don't require motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Do you know how much it costs to sustain a persons life after a paralyzing crash? Moreover, most of the illegal immigrants are working jobs that Americans WON'T work, because somehow the same low level job that we used to call an "opportunity" for some reason we call it "humiliating". So this is a newer problem but an old argument.
    Anyway, does anyone remember the Bush/Kerry debates when the Repubs killed Kerry for being a "flip-flopper"? That's how America treats someone who owns up to mistakes? When you REEXAMINE a bad decision, with the benefit of hindsight and realize you were wrong, and then change your course of action, that's GOOD. That's PROGRESS! That's LEARNING! That's learning from history so you're NOT doomed to repeat the same mistake. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a Kerry fan, nor was I back then, but the point still holds true.
    Imagine if you were one of the aforementioned illegal immigrants. You came to America for the same reason every other American did, for a chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It's essentially impossible for you to achieve citizenship legally, and your home situation was dire, so you had to go. You landscape, wash dishes, clean bathrooms, you know, all the jobs most Americans are too prideful or lazy to do. You do all of this for very little money. This might sound a lot like YOUR family story (wink). While putting in a days work you get severely injured. You go to the hospital, in total fear of course. This is where the story (and your life) ends because the hospital doors were locked, just for you. Now imagine you're that person's child, who speaks English and can understand the people in suits on TV talking about what a great idea it was to scrap that piece of legislation.
    So the point is, on paper I agree with Romney, but it doesn't matter because Romney doesn't agree with Romney. The mere fact that he endorses or rebukes his past decisions depending on who's vote he's pursuing at the moment, is reason enough for me to lose respect for him. You're a man, and a candidate to run the government of the most powerful nation in the free world, so make a damn decision, own it, and live with it.

    October 24, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Reagan Republican

    Romney is no Republican.

    October 24, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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