Romney Drawing Criticism for Health Care Comments
Presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) during his campaign has cited the recently enacted state law that requires all residents to obtain health insurance as an "example of how he used conservative principles to provide affordable health insurance for all state residents," but he "does not mention aspects of the plan that may hold less appeal for his Republican audiences," the Boston Globe reports.
During his campaign, Romney has cited the need for "conservative change" in health care and has described the law, which he cites as one of his major accomplishments, as "all a private initiative, a private-based, market-based health care."
However, according to the Globe, the state's health insurance law "is exceedingly complicated, and it would be difficult for Romney to explain all the nuances in a town hall-style meeting, or in TV or radio advertisements." In addition, the Globe reports that Romney fails to tell voters that the state and the federal government subsidize a large portion of the cost of the law and that the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector, a public board, negotiated the benefits and prices offered by private health insurers. Critics maintain that Romney has overstated his role in the enactment of the law.
Health Care for All Executive Director John McDonough said, "It is a creative reconstruction of the law and what actually happened ... to fit his needs" as a candidate.
According to state Sen. Richard Moore (D), the law "utilizes a lot of private-sector aspects, but it certainly is not totally or even significantly private sector."
State House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi (D) said, "On health care, it's nothing new from Mitt Romney -- he supports our law when it suits him and runs away from it when it benefits his political ambition," adding, "His vetoes gutted the very essence of the bill, and if his ideas stood, the number of uninsured in Massachusetts would have only grown. It's fairer to say our bill -- with the hallmark provision of shared responsibility from individuals, employers and providers -- became law despite Mitt Romney, not because of him."
Romney spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom said, "What's important about the Massachusetts health care law is that it's working, and Mitt Romney got it done by reaching across the political aisle," adding, "We have fewer uninsured, the cost of policies is coming down, and more and more people are taking personal responsibility for their own health care." He also said that conservative groups such as the Club for Growth support the law.
The Romney campaign said that Romney on Friday plans to deliver a health care speech to the Florida Medical Association in which he will discuss "the lessons learned in Massachusetts and how he can apply those ... on a national basis," adding that he "will go into much greater specifics than he does in his stump speech" (Wangsness, Boston Globe, 8/22).