As millions of Americans celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act—widely known as “Obamacare”—is in fact constitutional, presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continues to run from the fact that his health care program in Massachusetts was a basis for the national legislation. Jim Acosta of CNN looked into Romney’s past comments, finding that the mandate he now calls unconstitutional was in fact the “centerpiece of the Massachusetts plan.”
At the heart of the conservative complaints about the president’s law is its individual mandate, which forces all Americans to buy health insurance, if they can afford it, or pay a fine.
As most voters now know, the president fashioned much of his law by borrowing heavily from the reform plan signed into law by Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts six years ago. The centerpiece of the Massachusetts plan is its own mandate.
In an interview with CNN in 2009, Romney touted the mandate as a free market alternative to the president’s original plan that offered Americans the option to buy into a government insurance plan. That so-called ‘public option’ was later dropped from the law.
‘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 in 2009. ‘The fact that we were able to get people insured without a government option is a model I think they can learn from.’
Romney explained his mandate, or ‘incentive’ as he preferred to call it in the interview, was designed to achieve universal coverage.
‘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.
Despite the obvious influences of his own policies, Romney continued to attack the law that would guarantee health care for millions and prevent insurance companies from refusing care to those with pre-existing conditions. Emily Friedman of ABC News wrote:
‘As you might imagine I disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision and I agree with the dissent,’ said Romney, with the Capitol building as his backdrop. ‘What the Court did not do on its last day in session I will do on my first day if elected President of the United States and that is I will act to repeal Obamacare.
‘Let’s make clear that we understand what the court did and did not do. What the court did today was say that Obamacare does not violate the Constitution,’ he said. ‘What they did not do was say that Obamacare is good law, or that its good policy. Obamacare was bad policy yesterday, it’s bad policy today. Obamacare was bad law yesterday, it’s bad law today.’
Left unanswered is the question of whether Romney considers his own legislation to be “bad policy” and “bad law.”
Click here to read NJDC’s release lauding the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare and watch President Barack Obama speak about the ruling.
** Update **
Evidence continues to mount of Mitt Romney’s stunning hypocrisy on the individual mandate. Alicia Mundy of The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2006, Romney gave a press conference as Massachusetts governor where he defended his inclusion of an individual mandate in his own health care legislation. Mundy wrote:
The first video shows a March 2006 news conference, in which then-Gov. Romney said, ‘With regards to the individual mandate, the individual responsibility program that I proposed, I was very pleased that the compromise between the two houses includes the personal responsibility mandate.’ In a television clip of the event, Mr. Romney called the Massachusetts requirement that people buy health-care coverage ‘essential for bringing the health care costs down for everyone and getting everyone the health insurance they need.’
In a second video, taped in April 2006 when the bill passed the Massachusetts legislature’s conference committee, Mr. Romney addressed the employer mandate that penalized some companies for not offering health insurance, saying such a penalty is ‘It is a fee, it’s an assessment,’ he said. He added that the fee was being assessed on those who were ‘abusing the free care pool…’
The first video is significant because it shows Mr. Romney broadly defending the principle of the individual mandate.
Mr. Romney’s earlier support for the mandate in the Massachusetts health plan has dogged him on the campaign trail this election, adding to allegations by other Republicans and by Democrats that he flip-flops on critical issues.
Critics say he has backpedaled on his support for the Massachusetts health-care law, a hallmark of his time as governor. But his campaign spokeswoman said Thursday that Mr. Romney has consistently said that he never supported a federal mandate.
Mr. Obama and other Democrats frequently cited Mr. Romney’s health care mandate proposal as an example of a workable approach to expanding health care insurance when they were drawing up the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010. They said the concept-which is supposed to spread the cost and risk among a wider pool of insurees- had originally been proposed by conservatives.
You can watch the video of Romney’s glowing comments here, or you can see it below.
You can read the full article from The Wall Street Journal here.
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