As Andy noted over the weekend, in a 2009 USA Today op-ed, Mitt Romney wrote (emphasis mine):
Health care is simply too important to the economy, to employment and to America’s families to be larded up and rushed through on an artificial deadline. There’s a better way. And the lessons we learned in Massachusetts could help Washington find it.
Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn’t have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages “free riders” to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn’t cost the government a single dollar.
In response, Romney campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul e-mails, “Over the last several years, Gov. Romney has said many times, in many different formats, that his health care reform plan was the right model for Massachusetts, and that it should not be used as a one-size-fits-all national health insurance plan. Governor Romney is a federalist and has always sad that states should be free to come up with their own health care reforms – whether they want to borrow ideas from Massachusetts or not.”
I e-mailed Saul a follow-up question: asking whether “Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages “free riders” to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others” was meant to suggest an individual mandate on the federal level or, if not, what exactly was Romney proposing (since it’s hard to see how a tax penalty could be enforced without a mandate).
“Gov, Romney has never advocated for a federal individual mandate,” Saul responded. “He believes in the Tenth Amendment and, as a result, has always said that states should be free to come up with their own health care reforms.” She also sent along a series of quotes from 2007 onwards showing Romney advocating that health care be tackled at the state level.
For instance, in the hardcover edition of No Apology, Romney wrote (emphasis mine):
My own preference would be to let each state fashion its own program to meet the distinct needs of its citizens. States could follow the Massachusetts model of they choose, or they could develop plans of their own. These plans, tested in the state ‘laboratories of democracy’ could be evaluated, compared, improved upon, and adopted by others. But the creation of a national plan is the direction in which Washington is currently moving. If a national approach is ultimately adopted, we should permit individuals to purchase insurance from companies in other states in order to expand choice and competition.