The Corner

Team Romney Defends RomneyCare

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

patient. 

(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.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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