Romney health care law anniversary overshadowed
April 12th, 2012
05:36 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney health care law anniversary overshadowed

(CNN) - Six years to the day after then Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law his state's historic bipartisan health care bill, the anniversary over the controversial measure was overshadowed by another political controversy.

The firestorm on Thursday focused on comments made Wednesday night by Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Hilary Rosen that Romney's wife Ann "never worked a day in her life," leaving far from the political spotlight any talk over the measure derisively known as "Romneycare" by its critics.

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On April 12, 2006, Romney, the Republican governor in a state dominated by Democrats, 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 Romney. The lynchpin of the law was an insurance mandate that required the people of Massachusetts to get health insurance.

Critics of the law call it the inspiration for the national health care law, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, that was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in March, 2010. That measure is despised by many Republicans, which they call "Obamacare."

Six years after the signing of the state law, Romney is now the all but certain Republican presidential nominee. He defends what he did in Massachusetts, but he vows to repeal the president's health care reform law if he's elected to the White House.

While the Romney campaign was pretty much quiet concerning the anniversary, the Obama re-election team put out a three minute video Thursday morning that featured two men who helped craft both the Massachusetts law and the federal law .

"I helped Gov. Romney develop his health care reform or Romneycare, before going down to Washington to help President Obama develop his national version of that law," said Jonathan Gruber, a MIT Health Consultant featured prominently in the video. The spot includes old footage of Romney thanking Gruber for his work on the Massachusetts health bill.

Gruber said that "the core of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare and what we did in Massachusetts are identical."

The insurance mandate in the Massachusetts law wasn't a major liability in Romney's first presidential run in 2008 because Obama's health care law wasn't born yet.

And as late as 2009, as Washington was debating the president'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's Jim Acosta at the time. "The fact that we were able to get people insured without a government option is a model I think they can learn from."

Fast forward to the 2012 presidential campaign and Romney says while his law was tailor made for Massachusetts, it was not meant to serve as a national model. He frequently declares on the campaign trail that "I will repeal Obamacare, and I'll kill it dead on its first day."

On the day of the anniversary, Romney campaign press secretary Andrea Saul put out a statement that "President Obama was wrong to impose a one-size-fits-all plan for the nation on healthcare. Obamacare is bad policy and it's bad law. What is important is that states should be free to pursue their own solutions, and we look forward to celebrating the day Obamacare is overturned and that power is returned to the states."

The Obama campaign video also includes a clip from John McDonough, who's identified as another architect of both health care plans.

He questions Romney's opposition to the president's Affordable Care Act: "People have him recorded as promoting Massachusetts health reform, promoting it as a national model. And now he is saying he wants to tear down the very model he was promoting."

Romney was hammered over the Massachusetts law by some of his rivals for the GOP nomination. Late last month, before he suspended his White House bid, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said that because of the law Romney signed, he would be the "worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama" in the general election.

So is Santorum right? While "Romneycare" was a liability of sorts to the conservative dominated GOP primary electorate, the big question now is how it will play in the general election.

"I think what Romney did in Massachusetts won't be as big a factor during the general election as it was in the primaries. I think to the extent that health care is an issue in the general, it will be the contrast going forward, with Romney proposing to repeal the federal plan and the president saying that such a move would leave 30 million Americans without insurance and that such a move would undue the aspects of it that Americans like, such allowing kids to stay on their parents health care plans until they turn 26 and the guaranteeing of coverage regardless of preexisting conditions," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein.

"I think the argument in the general election will be what it means going forward. Obama will use every opportunity he can to tie Romney to the federal health care law, but again, in the end Romney will be able to say that what ever happened before, there will be a clear difference between the two men going forward," adds Brownstein, editorial director at National Journal.

CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin contributed to this story

Also see:

Obama ahead in New Jersey, even with Christie on ticket

Florida Rep labels congressional Democrats as Communists

Barbour won't formally endorse Romney, but offers advice

Filed under: Health care • Massachusetts • Mitt Romney
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Myviewis

    I guess Michelle Obama's mom falls in the same category as Ann Romney according to Hilary Rosen since Mrs. Robinson chose to stay home to raise Michelle Obama until she went to high school. Michelle's mom must have been ignorant to the economy for all those years she didn't work but stayed home to raise her daughter, at least she did a good job raising Michelle. Guess Hilary Rosen wouldn't think that raising a child is something to be proud of, thank God for mom's like Michelle's who believed otherwise.

    April 12, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Wrong call. Republicans have successfully overshadowed the remarks made by Congressman West about his fellow Democrats in the House.

    April 12, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. NVa Native

    Can't wait to see all the video clips with Romoney endorsing the "Obamacare" plan when it was Romneycare.
    Romoney hasn't a chance.

    April 12, 2012 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    Flip-Flop, both are the same.

    April 12, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  5. Squealy

    It is really too bad for Romney that he felt he had to do such a 180 on his own healthcare reform program just to placate the ultra righties. He could be using it as a selling point for his candidacy, incsead of trying to disown it.

    April 12, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  6. Michael B

    It's sad that in the Obama White House currently, women are being paid on average 10,000 dollars LESS than their male counterparts. Why isn't THAT news?

    April 12, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Of course it did. The "news" media is desperate to help Mittens make this a horse race so they have something to fill up air time, and his abysmal polling versus Obama isn't helping. Cue MSM sensationalizing unimportant garbage to distract from the issues that most hurt Captain Changeling.

    April 12, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  8. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    Gotta love watching the poutraged GOBP cultmembers, Rmoney groupies and their lapdogs in the so-called "liberal" media yapping about the Rmoney "controversy" (over a statement that accurately captured how out of touch the Rmoney family is from the rest of us) while missing the blatant hypocrisy as they speak not a word of condemnation when GOBP lunatic West claims many Dems are communists.

    This is how our political and media elites control the masses. Focus on the trivial. Ignore what's important. Oh look, something shiny.

    April 12, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  9. Thomas

    Happy Anniversary Romney health care !

    Take credit where create is due !

    April 12, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  10. once upon a horse

    I am quite sure that Romney is not upset that this so-called anniversary date is overshadowed. Something he was once proud of he is now running from. Too bad the Democrats when this HC law was first being introduced did not beat the Republicans out there to really explain it to the American people. Deathpanels and being hauled of to jail for not getting healhcare is what the GOP quickly put out there and it stuck. Too bad because now many might never know.

    April 12, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  11. jerry

    while this is upfront news how about telling us just exactly what did Michaell obummer do for the $300+K she was getting from that job she had...that did not exist before she came into it and after she left.... and whos pockets got picked to pay her at ANY of her jobs? Lets have some obama vetting and reporting..jucy stuff here.

    April 12, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  12. CBR

    Neither the President or Mrs. Obama made the statement about Mrs. Romney. Both have talked about the roles women play. Myviewis seems to be settling in on Mrs. Obama because of a comment by Ms. Rosen who has already apologized. It is time to talk about the real issues facing this country. This whole issue has been blown out of proportion.

    On the subject of Mr. Romneys health care law in MA. It has cost much more money than planned. The governor never stuck around to see if it would work. Four years later Governor Romney has distanced himself from the legislation. Kind of a cowardly thing to do.

    April 12, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    Mrs. Romney never had to worry about making ends meet. With Mrs. Robinson being married to a disabled man who still worked, I'm sure there were no nannies, no maids, no automatic washer/dryeer, dishwasher. Makes a big difference.

    April 12, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  14. SugarRed03

    Myviewis...I guess Michelle Obama's mom falls in...

    You all missed the whole point Ms Rosen was trying to make – it wasn't about Ms Romney's choices – Its about the millions of women who don't have that choice. Ann Romney has probably never worried about her electric bill or water bill or if she would have enough food to feed her 5 boys or enough to last until next pay day...that's what Hilary was talking about – not Ms Obama's mom's choice to stay home. Obviously, her dad earned enough money for her mom to have that choice.

    April 12, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  15. Another Day in the Idiot Mines

    "Guess Hilary Rosen wouldn't think that raising a child is something to be proud of, thank God for mom's like Michelle's who believed otherwise."

    Nice strawman. Ms. Rosen never said being a stay at home mom wasn't something to be proud of. Keep huffing and puffing though, soon you'll blow yourself out and we can back to the GOBP's real war on women.

    April 12, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  16. MaryM

    @Myview, did you know that Hilary Rosen has children? NO I didn't think so

    April 12, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  17. mb

    It goes to show that romney will flip flop on anything he wants. This is a prime example. He says he's a man of faith. He seems to be nothing short of a hyprocryte to me. Do we really want a clown like this as our president? We will be the laughing joke of the world then.

    April 12, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  18. ED FL

    I can imagine the challenges of a Wealthy Mom. Which cadillac should the chauffuer use to drive the kids to a private school. Which maid should do the dishes and which should do the laundry.i would bet that Mrs Romney doesn't know the differnce between a washer and a dryer. One thing for sure is that she would be a more desireable candidate than MITT.

    April 12, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  19. Briton

    GOP has a HUGE problem in Rmoney. Too bad.

    April 12, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |