Team Romney Defends RomneyCare

by Jonathan H. Adler

Earlier in the week I raised questions about the success of Romeny’s health care reforms in Massachsuetts (see here and here).  A Romney policy advisor offers this response:

1) As Governor Romney is fond of saying, “facts are stubborn things.”
The fact is that since healthcare reform was passed just over a year
ago, the number of uninsured and the price of the average individual
market health insurance policy in MA have decreased substantially.
Specifically, over 300,000 previously uninsured residents of the state
now have health insurance and the cost of an individual market health
insurance policy for the average uninsured resident in Massachusetts has
decreased by nearly 50%.  All of this was done without new taxes.

(2) Critiques like those written by Mr. Tanner are typical of a “sky is
falling” mentality about the Massachusetts reform law that seek to bury
the patient before he’s flatlined.  Critics like Mr. Tanner want to
condemn the reforms as a failure just three days after the individual
mandate has gone into effect.  Critics want to say that Governor Romney
did the wrong thing by working with an overwhelmingly Democratic
legislature to lead reform even though hundreds of thousands of
Massachusetts residents are now getting health insurance and, by
extension, better health care.  Such critiques are not only
premature–they are simply irresponsible.

(3) Markets don’t work overnight.  People will look back on Gov.
Romney’s leadership on this issue in, say, 10 years and applaud the work
that he did to allow the free market to bring down the price of health
insurance.  By deregulating and reforming the market, we will see
further reductions (even greater) in health insurance premiums than we
have already seen–but such changes do take time and we ought to be

(4) Finally, bear in mind that any implementation hiccups are primarily
the responsibility of the current (Patrick) Administration.  If there
are cost overruns, inefficiencies, etc., it’s very hard to blame someone
who’s not in power to do anything about it anymore.  Of course, Governor
Romney put the framework in place–but that framework was one that
allowed for then-current state revenues and federal assistance to cover
the low-income uninsured and for market reform to work its magic in
reducing costs and improving quality for everyone. 

 Me: I agree that it may be too soon to judge the practical effects of RomneyCare.  In particular it is a fair point that it may take health care markets some time to respond to the various reforms.  I also think it is a fair point that Romney should not be blamed for the Patrick Administration’s implementation.  On the other hand, Romney should have been aware that any reforms he got enacted would eventually be controlled by more liberal and less market oriented officials.  If a government program is only good when controlled by the “right” people, then it is not a good government program.  Further, I do not think it is “irresponsible” to criticize a program that expanded health insurance coverage if this expansion came at the expense of other values. I would also be very interested if Team Romney or others have responses to the more detailed critique of RomneyCare offered by David Hyman in this study.

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