One thing that bugged me about the former governor’s defense of his health reform effort: the claim that it required no new taxes. As our editorial points out, the federal government picked up much of the tab. Moreover, tax increases may well be necessary to address the soaring costs of what was widely understood to be a “coverage-first” law that would require cost containment measures down the line.
Most of the commentary I’ve seen on Romney’s health plan strikes me as silly, though I suppose I should comment on it at greater length when I’m not on an airplane (en route to Los Angeles, my second favorite city). There is nothing incoherent about backing an individual mandate on the state level and not the federal level, particularly if you believe, as Romney does, that state and federal governments have different roles. It is entirely possible that Romney didn’t believe this at some point in the past, but that he believes it now. Fair enough.
I also think that anxieties concerning an insurance race-to-the-bottom in an environment in which residents of one state are allowed to purchase coverage in another are misplaced. But I believe that these anxieties are misplaced because I believe that the federal government will inevitably play a significant role in funding the health coverage of the poorest, sickest people, and that cross-subsidies via community rating aren’t the best way to achieve a goal of universal access to affordable coverage designed to protect against serious income shocks. I know that many other people in the libertarian and conservative camps disagree.
More on all of this soon.