Politics & Policy

Romney Defends Romneycare, Distinguishes It From Obamacare

In his speech today, Mitt Romney doubled down on his defense of Romneycare, arguing that an individual mandate at the state level was fundamentally different from one imposed at the federal level.

“Our plan was a state solution to a state problem,” Romney said, going on to describe Obamacare as “a power grab by the federal government.”

On the economic level, Romney emphasized that his program did not hike taxes, unlike Obamacare. He talked about how it allowed Massachusetts residents to transfer jobs, without fearing they would be unable to buy insurance in the interim between employers.

Romney also vigorously defended the individual mandate in Massachusetts, saying “the state decision we took was to insist upon personal responsibility.”  He illustrated the need for a mandate by talking about how “many citizens who could afford insurance … were saying ‘I’m not going to buy insurance. If something really bad happens to me, I can go to the hospital and I can get treated for free.’” Romney called the previous status quo in Massachusetts — where government and taxpayers paid for the uninsured’s health care treatment — an example of “big government.”

Talking about the health care policies he would push for if elected to the presidency, Romney was careful to distance himself from Obamacare, rattling off a list of differences between the two plans. He pointed out that his plan wouldn’t cut Medicare, would have fewer regulations, and would not include any mandates.  “If I get a chance to debate President Obama, this is what we’re going to be talking about,” he said.

Romney stressed that his plan would allow states to make crucial decisions about how to provide health care, would help individuals be able to purchase their own insurance (Romney favors extending the tax credit businesses get for health care to those who purchase health care on the individual market), would “focus” regulation, reduce costs associated with medical liability, and help make the health-care arena more driven by market forces.

He also spoke about how to bend the cost curve in health care, promoting ideas such as co-insurance (consumers pay a set percentage of all their medical costs rather than co-pays), selling insurance across state lines, and changing the health-care payment culture such that consumer started being able to compare health-care plans more easily.  In the Q & A afterwards, he talked about how countries like France and Switzerland spent significantly less on their health care than the U.S., and attributed that to their use of co-insurance.

And he refused to apologize or back down on his health-care program in Massachusetts, telling the audience he was “proud” of the program.

“We did our best for our people, and we got people insured,” Romney said.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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