Over the past few years, President Obama has not hesitated to compare his signature health-care legislation to his former opponent’s own law back in Massachusetts, known as Romneycare.
“The words predictions about health-care reform never came true,” President Obama told a crowd in Boston in October 2013. “Your law was the model for the nation’s law.”
However, when it comes to the consistent delays and executive-branch revision of the enacted Affordable Care Act, the White House is conspicuously silent on the subject of Romneycare.
Why? Well, because after its passage neither the governor nor the state legislature altered Romneycare nearly as many times as the president has seen fit to alter Obamacare. Those changes that were made to the Massachusetts law were enacted via the body that has power to alter legislation: the legislature.
In contrast, since its passage Obamacare has been changed about 30 times. In November, the Galen institute recorded 27 significant changes, ten of which were done through administrative action. Since then, President Obama enacted “hardship exemptions” from penalties for people who lost their insurance, allowed individuals to buy catastrophic plans barred under law, and, most recently, delayed (again) the employer mandate for medium-sized companies of 50 to 99 employees.
The rollout of Massachusetts’s health-care law, on the other hand, was much smoother. Massachusetts only needed to cover the remaining 10 percent of the state’s population that was uninsured, and the rollout itself was done in several stages in order to manage more effectively.
Romney did attempt to alter the law immediately before its passage through the line-item veto of eight provisions. But each of those vetoes was overridden by the legislature. Romney never attempted to institute those attempted vetoes through executive action.
Romney left office in January 2007, nine months after the passage of his health-care law. Only after Romney left office were any changes made, and the governor never unilaterally delayed provisions of the law. The most major changes to the law — instituting an open enrollment period in 2010 and ending the employer mandate in 2013 — were done through legislative action.
While Romneycare is neither as perfect as its liberal supporters contend nor as horrible as its conservative detractors accuse, at the least it has been consistent. That’s much more than can be said of Obamacare.
— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.