Friday, March 02, 2012

Romney's blueprint for Obamacare, July 2009

Thanks to Andrew Kaczynski for unearthing a Mitt Romney op-ed, dated July 30, 2009, exhorting Obama to follow Romney's Massachusetts blueprint in crafting a national healthcare reform bill.

Kaczynski tweets that in this op-ed Romney urged Obama to adopt the individual mandate (unlike in a 2006 WSJ op-ed, where Romney took federalist cover, urging states to follow his lead) . More or less -- though in characteristic fashion Romney left himself a tortured loophole:
Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages “free riders” to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others.
I can just hear him now: "I did not say that the federal government should impose a mandate." Barely true. Nevertheless, the piece is rife with ironies. Hectoring an implicitly clueless and venal student-executive, Romney urges Obama to

take his time:
Shortly after becoming governor, I worked in a bipartisan fashion with Democrats to insure all our citizens. It took almost two years to find a solution. 

drop the public option:
Massachusetts also proved that you don’t need government insurance. Our citizens purchase private, free-market medical insurance. There is no “public option.” With more than 1,300 health insurance companies, a federal government insurance company isn’t necessary...To find common ground with skeptical Republicans and conservative Democrats, the president will have to jettison left-wing ideology for practicality and dump the public option.

adopt the individual mandate -- or perhaps, a tax incentive to insurance buyers

           (see above)

not add to the national debt:
The president must insist on a program that doesn’t add to our spending burden. We simply cannot afford another trillion-dollar mistake.

make inroads on the fee-for-service payment model
...providers could be paid an annual fixed fee for the primary care of an individual and a separate fixed fee for the treatment of a specific condition. 

In short, do everything that Obama subsequently did.  It's all in the coda (my emphasis):
Republicans are not the party of “no” when it comes to health care reform. This Republican is proud to be the first governor to insure all his state’s citizens. Other Republicans such as Rep. Paul Ryan and Sens. Bob Bennett and John McCain, among others, have proposed their own plans. Republicans will join with the Democrats if the president abandons his government insurance plan, if he endeavors to craft a plan that does not burden the nation with greater debt, if he broadens his scope to reduce health costs for all Americans, and if he is willing to devote the rigorous effort, requisite time and bipartisan process that health care reform deserves.
Ah, Mitt. A prophet for our times. And a paragon of good faith dealing.

Related: Romney keeps hacking at Obamacare's shadow limb

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