There is just no good way for Romney to defend his Massachusetts program. There are worse ways than Romney actually chose tonight, but Santorum’s point that Romney matches up poorly with President Obama on health reform is undeniably true.
One of Romney’s many problems here is that as long as he defends the assumption behind the Massachusetts mandate — that the cost of treating the uninsured in hospitals is a massive cost shift to insured households and taxpayers — he is still defending a government mandate to buy a commercial product. No, it’s not as bad as a federal mandate, but it’s bad enough.
For the record, uncompensated care is not a major cause of the cost explosion in American health care. It runs about three to four percent of annual health care spending.