Mitt Romney just gave a more articulate defense of Obamacare than President Obama ever has. He continues to believe that the individual mandate is a good idea, despite the fact that the “free-rider” problem is a myth. His effort to make a distinction between Romneycare and Obamacare was not persuasive: If anything, he convincingly made the opposite case, that Romneycare and Obamacare are based on the same fundamental concept.
In recent months, Romney has claimed that Romneycare was a specific solution for the specific needs of Massachusetts. But in his remarks, he did not name one specific aspect of the Massachusetts health-care environment that is unique to that state. If there are no important differences between the Massachusetts health-care system and that of other states, why shouldn’t he believe that Romneycare should be the model for every other state?
Indeed, here is what Romney wrote in the Wall Street Journal on April 11, 2006, the day before he signed his signature health-care legislation:
How much of our health-care plan applies to other states? A lot. Instead of thinking that the best way to cover the uninsured is by expanding Medicaid, they can instead reform insurance.
The final straw, for me, was when Romney said that “there’s not a lot that I want to borrow from France and Switzerland.” I’m with him on France, but Switzerland (despite its own individual-mandate issues) has the most market-oriented health-care system in the developed world. I would love to borrow Switzerland’s exceptionally low levels of state-health spending, which they manage to achieve while providing universal coverage and high-quality care. Their tax rates aren’t shabby either.
— Avik Roy is an equity research analyst at Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co., and blogs on health-care policy at The Apothecary. You can follow him on Twitter at @aviksaroy.