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Saturday, May 14, 2011

GOP Candidates and Health

Mitt Romney has a problem. If he stands by the Massachusetts health plan, he seems to be on the same side as the president. If he abandons it, he looks like a flipper. At AP, Charles Babbington writes:

So Romney has decided to stick with a sometimes confusing, legalistic defense of the ground-breaking health law he enacted in Massachusetts. In a 29-minute talk and slide show Thursday in Michigan, he tried to make a political virtue of his campaign necessity.

"A lot of pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say this whole thing was a mistake, that it was just a bone-headed idea and I should just admit it," Romney told a room of college Republicans. "There's only one problem with that: It wouldn't be honest. I, in fact, did what I believe was right for the people of my state."

There's the rub for Romney. If mandated insurance coverage was right for the state he governed, how can it be so terribly wrong for the nation Obama oversees?


Analysts and political strategists were skeptical.

"Romney trotted out the federalism argument once again, calling Obamacare a 'power grab,'" wrote Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger at The Washington Post. "But conservatives for nearly two years have been arguing that NO government should require individuals to purchase something they don't want."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who also is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, criticized Romney for trying "to institute the precursor to national socialized medicine."

"Both Romneycare and Obamacare infringe upon individual freedom," Santorum said.

Even some of Romney's closest friends seem unmoved. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said Romney "had admirable goals of making private health insurance more affordable, but the Massachusetts plan didn't work."

Sam Stein writes at The Huffington Post:

In his post-congressional life, Gingrich has been a vocal champion for mandated insurance coverage -- the very provision of President Obama's health care legislation that the Republican Party now decries as fundamentally unconstitutional.

This mandate was hardly some little-discussed aspect of Gingrich's plan for health care reform. In the mid-2000s, he partnered with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) to promote a centrist solution to fixing the nation's health care system. A July 22, 2005, Hotline article on one of the duo's events described the former speaker as endorsing not just state-based mandates (the linchpin of Romney's Massachusetts law) but "some federal mandates" as well. A New York Sun writeup of what appears to be the same event noted that "both politicians appeared to endorse proposals to require all individuals to have some form of health coverage."

At National Review Online, Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler responds:

The Huffington Post gets it wrong. They are trying to compare the government-run health care systems of Obamacare and Massachusetts to Gingrich’s largely market based system that puts the healthcare consumer in the drivers seat. To get cost saving with greater choice and high quality care, Gingrich relies upon the market which puts the patient at the center of the system where choice can be made by knowing the actual price and quality like everywhere else in the free market. Obamacare and Massachusetts rely on rationing and price controls which lead to lower quality at the highest cost (no downward cost pressures) care with fewer choices which leads to scarce and low quality care.