Mitt Romney on Health Care
Governor Romney is a strong supporter of mandates at the state level, and ensuring all people are insured through those mandates coupled with subsidies for low income people. This was the MassCare legislation that Governor Romney put forth in Massachussetts. However, Governor Romney opposes this practice at the federal level in the ObamaCare legislation.
Despite an 89 page PDF describign his economic plan, Governor does not give a specific plan to address health care in his 2012 Presidential literature. However, there are bullet points that support tort reform, block granting Medicaid and other similar items.
Governor Romney's signature achievements while in office was the implementation of MassCare, or RomneyCare. This Massachusetts state legislation produced a mandate that required all people to purchase health insurance or pay a fine in teh form of taxes to the state. Employers also paid a small tax. People who earned below three times the poverty level were given money from the state to purchase private insurance. No government insurance plan was created, but private companies could not reject someone on the basis of a pre-existing condition or illness. The legislation also established a web system that rated each hospital and listed the cost of each procedure.
2008 Presidential Campaign
During the 2008 Presidential election, Governor Romney was repeatedly asked about RomneyCare. In explaining that plan, Governor Romney introduced the idea of a "free rider." He stated that a free rider was a person who could afford to pay for health insurance, but chose not to buy it. When that person got sick, the government paid for that care. He stated that his program introduced personal responsibility by requiring that those people buy insurance. This idea was repeated often in numerous interviews. He also noted that the subsidies provided to lower income people coupled with the mandate had resulted in coverage for all Massachusetts citizens with only a marginal increase in costs.
In 2007, Governor Romney was interviewed by the Des Moines register where he reasserted his support for mandates, and noted the Massachusetts plan introduced market forces through it's rating system. He stated that the mandates drove down the cost of health care and increased choice for consumers. He asserted that the subsidies program was cheaper in the long run than picking up the costs for those with no coverage. Governor Romney also noted that states are meant to be laboratories for legislative experiments and that his MassCare plan was exactly that.
2012 Presidential Campaign
When Governor Romney began campaigning for the Presidency in 2011, the primary focus of his health care plan was repealing Obamacare. In articles and seminars on health care he stated that if elected, his first order of business would be issuing a waiver to all 50 states on Obamacare and then working with Congress to repeal it. This is one of the five executive orders he pledged to issue on the first day if elected.
In addressing his desire to repeal Obamacare when it is almost identical to RomneyCare, Governor Romney hsa put forth a number of arguments. First, Governor Romney asserts that states are meant to be laboratories for legislation such as MassCare, and the federal government does not have the authority to make a national health care plan. Second, he states that Obamacare takes over health care and forces everyone onto government sanctioned plans while MassCare allows people to select from private plans. Third, Obamacare does a lot beyond health care and the proof of this is that MassCare was 70 pages, while Obamacare was 2700 pages. Finally, he states that Obamacare raises taxes, changes medicare, and costs a lot while MassCare was relatively inexpensive, did not affect medicare, and did not raise taxes.
In stating what he would do for health care if elected, Governor Romney noted a 5 point plan. The first of these would be returning control of health care plans to the states. To do this, he would block-grant funds for Medicaid and the uninsured, and offer the states resources to help the chronically ill. Second, he would alter the tax code to give the same benefits that large corporations get for providing coverage to individual and small companies. Third, he proposes lowering government regulation by allowing people to purchase health insurance across state lines, lessening state regulations on insurance packages, and allowing small companies to pool into groups to lower cost. This would be coupled with a requirement that insurance companies provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions if those people have consistently maintained coverage. Fourth, the medical liability system should be reformed to prevent abuse. Finally, Governor Romney states that health care should be made more like a consumer market and less like a government program. This is done, in part, by eliminating the minimum deductible requirement.
Raymond, New Hampshire Town hall
In December of 2007, Governor Romney spoke at a town hall in Raymond New Hampshire about his state's laws requiring people to purchase insurance. He refers to those without insurance as "free riders" and states that under the current system, everyone who has insurance must pay for those who don't.
Des Moines Register
In December of 2007, Governor Romney was interviewed by the Des Moines Register and spoke about a system in Massachusetts to show the quality and cost of procedures at various hospitals and allow market dynamics to move the health care system.
In the first video, Governor Romney describes the system established in Massachusetts to allow market forces to act on health care. A web page was established to rate hospitals using a star system (0 for poor, 5 for good, etc), and the cost that hospital charged per procedure was shown. People could then choose the hospital of their choice. The governor also states that he believes that every person should have insurance.
Mandates and Competition
When speaking on the Massachusetts health care system, Governor Romney noted that the individual mandate to purchase insurance allowed people to buy cheaper products. He stated that premiums came down when the mandates on insurance companies were reduced. His plan also subsidized the purchase of insurance for those who could not afford it. This means that people making less than a certain amount were given money from the state government for the purposes of buying the mandated insurance. The Governor stated that this saved money.
States as Laboratories
Governor Romney also states that the best way to find new solutions in health care is to allow the states to be laboratories for experiments on coverage. He states that in Massachusetts's case, an individual mandates was used, and he believes that this is the better way to go.
New Hampshire Debate
In January of 2008, Governor Romney participated in a presidential debate in New Hampshire. He was asked about his views on mandates given the MassCare mandates he enacted as Governor. He responded that while he did support the states mandating coverage, he does not support mandating that each state do what was done in Massachussetts.
Fox News Sunday - Obamacare and Romneycare
In March of 2010, Governor Romney appeared on Fox News Sunday. He was asked about the comparisons between what he did in Massachussetts and what the federal government was doing in Obamacare. He stated that there were several similarities and also several differences. The primary difference was that the states simply have the authory to address health care as they see fit and the federal government does not have that authority. He also noted that his plan did not raise taxes.
Good Morning America
In 2008, Governor Romney appeared on Good Morning America and discussed the issue of health care. He was asked about what Massachusetts as compared to the rest of the nation. Governor Romney agrees that Massacussetts set a mandate and then provided subsidies. He discusses the idea of free riders in the system.
Charlie Gibson: As I understand it, the plan is that every individual has to ... has to ... buy health insurance if their company doesn't provide it. And if they are too poor, the state will give it to them or help them buy it. Correct?
Governor Romney: That's a pretty fair statement. What we found is that if you have people who sit outside the system, and instead just show up at the hospital when they are sick and expect someone else to pay, that's a free rider system and it's bad health care for them, it's expensive for everyone else. Now we're saying "Everybody come on in." We want you to buy insurance if you can afford it, and we will also help you buy insurance if you can't afford it. We look at your income and of course we subsidize those at very low income.
Larry King Live Interview
In March of 2010, Governor Romney appeared on Larry King live and discussed mostly health care. The two discussed Governor Romney's views on Obamacare, a recent book that he had authored, and comparisons between Romneycare and Obamacare. He notes his support for employer and individual mandates.
Out with Obamacare
On May 11, 2011 Governor Romney wrote an article that was published in the USA Today. This article stated that if elected, his first move would be to repeal Obamacare. He then outlines the five steps that he would take to address health care.
ObamaCare vs MassCare
On May 12, 2011 Governor Romney held a conference at the University of Michigan to discuss the differences and similarities between his plan in Massachusetts and President Obama's health care plan which was implemented in 2010. He discusses the differences between state and federal governmental powers, and the overall differences in their plans. Some of the differences and similarities he cites are:
- The Obama administration distrusts the states and the free enterprise system, but MassCare was a state solution consistent with federalism. Governor Romney states that Obamacare in this aspect was a federal takeover, where Romneycare in Massachusetts was consistent with Federalism.
- Obamacare raises taxes and cuts medicare, while MassCare made no changes for seniors and had no tax increase
- Governor Romney notes that both plans have a mandate to purchase insurance, but that the Massachusetts program created no new entity and just allowed people to purchase private insurance. He states that the MassCare program had a relatively low program cost, especially compared to Obamacare
Governor Romney also describes in detail what he would do in terms of health care if he were to be elected President. In doing so, Governor Romney states the following:
- The US has a high quality health care system with choice for consumers, that attracts the best and brightest people, and is the most innovative in the world. However, the program is high cost, leaves many uninsured, is not portable, and discriminates against small businesses for tax purposes. He states that President Obama's plan detracts from all the positives, and does not address the flaws in the current system.
After this, Governor Romney outlines his plan for health care in which he states that if elected, President Romney would issue a waiver to all states on Obamacare and then work with Congress to repeal the legislation. He states that he would care for those with pre-existing conditions, provide health care for low income individuals, provide portability, and ensure consumer choice. To accomplish these tasks, Governor Romney establishes five principles; restore state leadership, empower individual ownership, focus federal regulation, reform medical liability, and introduce market forces.
In restoring state leadership, Governor Romney states that his plan would allow states to find their own ways to deal with chronically ill and poor people, and that he would block grant medicare funds to each state without mandating how that money was spent.
To empower individual ownership, Governor Romney proposes to give individuals the same tax incentives as are given to large employers. He states that this would promote portability, and allow people to purchase the plans they want and not what the HR department wants.
To focus federal regulation, Governor Romney states that individuals who have maintained coverage for a given length of time may not be denied coverage. However, someone who has not been insured for a long period of time cannot purchase insurance after becoming ill. He also states that he would allow people to purchase insurance across state lines, allow insurance companies to develop new packages to be purchases, and reform the liability system.
Finally, Governor Romney states that making insurance more like purchasing a product and less like a government system would be best for health care. This includes rating systems similar to consumer reports, and forces consumers to be more concerned with the cost of the care available to them.
Manchester Town Hall
On June 3, 2011 Governor Romney spoke at a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire. When asked about the part of Obamacare that granted exemptions for pre-existing conditions. He stated that he would end Obamacare, but keep the provision for pre-existing conditions. He also expressed support for purchasing health care across state lines, and tort reform.
Sean Hannity Interview
In June of 2011, Governor Romney was interviewed by Sean Hannity and they spoke at length about Obamacare and Romneycare. The Governor noted the differences in the programs and his desire to see Obamacare repealed.
New Hampshire Debate
In June of 2011, Governor Romney participated in the Presidential debate in New Hampshire. He was asked about the comparisons of his plan to Obamacare and noted the differences in the two scenarios.
In August of 2011, Governor Romney participated in the Republican Presidential debate in Ames, Iowa. He discusses health care and notes that the states have the right to enact a mandate as part of health care reform as he did in Massachusetts under the tenth amendment. He also notes the increased personal responsibility in the mandate.
In September of 2011, Governor Romney participated in the Republican debate in the Reagan Library. He talks about his previous health care plan in comparison to Obamacare.
TEA Party Debate
In September of 2011, Governor Romney participated in the TEA Party debate and was asked about his previous policies and his support for a statewide mandate
In October of 2011, Governor Romney participated in the Western Debate in Las Vegas. He was pressured about MassCare and answered numeruos questions on the matter.
In December of 2011, Governor Romney participated in a forum that was moderated by Mike Huckabee. He was asked about his plan in Massachussetts and what he would have done differently.
2012 Campaign Website Statements