CNN's King drops medicine ball during Romney health care interviewMay 3, 2009 5:40 PM EDT ››› ANDREW WALZER
During an interview that aired on the May 3 edition of CNN's State of the Union, host John King asked former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney whether "the Massachusetts [health care] approach that was passed under Governor Romney" is "a good model for the nation." Romney replied: "Well, I think so, but I'm not going to impose necessarily my view on the National Council for a New America." King did not mention that, when running for president in 2007, Romney said the Massachusetts health-care system would not work -- and should not be applied -- in all states.
As Media Matters for America documented, while Romney stated during an August 24, 2007, speech before the Florida Medical Association, "I like the plan we came up with in Massachusetts," he also said that "what works in Massachusetts probably won't work in Texas. It's going to need a different plan." Romney later added: "A one-size-fits-all national health care system is bound to fail. It ignores the very dramatic differences between states, and it relies on a Washington bureaucracy to manage. You think about this. I do not want the guys that ran the Katrina cleanup running our health care system."
Additionally, during an October 21, 2007, Republican presidential debate, Fox News White House correspondent Wendell Goler said to Romney, "[W]e have an e-mailed question from Kendrick of Oakland, California, who says the health care plan you left in Massachusetts, which required people to get their own insurance, amounts to Hillary Care. You say it was the result of a Democratic legislature. I want to ask you: If a Democratic Congress placed such a plan on your desk in the Oval Office, would you sign it? And why was the plan good for Massachusetts and not good for the nation?" Romney replied that the Massachusetts system is "a model that other states can adopt in some respects," and again advocated allowing the states to "create their own plan":
ROMNEY: I'm very proud of what we did in Massachusetts, and I think it's a model that other states can adopt in some respects. ... For Democrats, they want to have government take it over. And I don't want to have the guys who did the cleanup at Katrina taking responsibility for health care in this country. ... But Hillary [Clinton] says the federal government's going to tell you what kind of insurance, and it's all government insurance. And I say no, let the states create their own plans, and instead of government insurance, private, market-based insurance. "
On July 6, 2007, The New York Times reported that Sally Canfield, then the policy director for the Romney campaign, also distinguished the Massachusetts plan from what Romney would favor nationally:
On the Republican side, few candidates have been better prepared to deal with the issue than former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who helped push through that state's health plan with bipartisan support. But Republican primary voters tend to be leery of new government requirements, and, arguably, of Massachusetts as a role model. Mr. Romney, on the campaign trail, talks generally about getting "everybody inside the health care system," through "market reforms" state by state to make private insurance cheaper and more available. But not, he says, "with a government takeover."
Sally Canfield, policy director for the Romney campaign, says that Mr. Romney is proud of his record, but "the Massachusetts plan was crafted for Massachusetts," and that a national plan would be different. For example, aides said he did not support a federal version of the Massachusetts requirement that individuals obtain insurance.
And on August 24, 2007, the Times reported that Romney had just then unveiled a health-care plan that "departs significantly from the universal health care measure that he helped forge as governor of Massachusetts":
Mitt Romney, an architect of Massachusetts' universal health coverage plan, is unveiling his proposal for overhauling the nation's health care system, calling for a state-by-state approach that he says will help millions of uninsured in this country gain access to affordable medical coverage.
The proposal, which Mr. Romney will detail today before the Florida Medical Association, departs significantly from the universal health care measure that he helped forge as governor of Massachusetts, reflecting the conservative audience he must now appeal to in order to win the Republican presidential nomination. It relies on federal incentives for market reforms, tax deductions and other changes to encourage people to buy health insurance and drive down costs.
"He's run away from the Massachusetts plan," said Stuart Altman, a health economist at Brandeis University who worked in the Nixon administration and has helped advise many politicians since, including Senator Barack Obama, a Democratic presidential contender.
The Massachusetts plan, which went into effect this year and is still being watched closely to see how it will fare, was Mr. Romney's signal legislative accomplishment as governor but has elements that trouble many conservatives, most notably a mandate that everyone who can afford it must buy health insurance or face penalties.
Mr. Romney often promotes his health care bill in Massachusetts on the campaign trail, holding it up as a private-market-based solution to the problem of the uninsured, as opposed to "socialized medicine," or "Hillary-care," as he often says. But he almost never mentions the requirement that individuals buy coverage.
There is no individual mandate in Mr. Romney's plan for the rest of the country. Instead, it concentrates on a "federalist" approach, premised on the belief that it is impossible to create a uniform system for the entire country. Along these lines, the federal government would offer incentives to states to take their own necessary steps to bring down the cost of health insurance.
From the May 3 edition of CNN's State of the Union with John King:
KING: Health care is another big issue that's going to come up this year. You got beat up in the campaign a little bit by fellow conservatives who said, you know, your approach had too big of a government role. Is the Massachusetts approach that was passed under Governor Romney, is that a good model for the nation?
ROMNEY: Well, I think so, but I'm not going to impose necessarily my view on the National Council for a New America. We're going to exchange ideas, listen to people; I'll put forward my own perspectives. My own view is pretty straight forward -- and that is that we can get Americans insured. We can get virtually every American insured with health insurance, without having to have government take over health insurance.
KING: The president's going to try to move his plan while you're having this national conversation, and he has put in place the rules that will probably allow him to do it. Is he going to get his way on health care?