Remember when Mitt Romney made health care an entitlement?

September 18, 2012

The most ironic wrinkle in Mitt Romney's scorching comments about the 47 percent of Americans "who believe that they are entitled to health care" is that there are exactly two American politicians who have actually signed an entitlement to health care into law: President Obama, and Gov. Mitt Romney.


You can see the Massachusetts health-care law on Romney's left, directly in front of the picture of Ann Romney. (Commonwealth of Massachusetts)

Romney's reforms, which were architecturally similar to the "Obamacare" law he now opposes, extended coverage to 98 percent of the Bay State's residents. Adults with incomes under 150 percent of the federal poverty line get coverage for free. Adults between 150 percent and 300 percent of the poverty line get subsidies. And adults who could buy health insurance but choose to forgo it have to pay a fine. The success of his reforms provided both policy and political inspiration for Obama's reforms.

Moreover, Romney has long been proud of his reforms. When he sat for his official portrait as governor of Massachusetts, he put the text of the law on his desk, directly in front of the picture of Ann Romney. When Obama embarked on his reform push in 2009, Romney wrote an op-ed advising him to heed "the lessons we learned in Massachusetts. And when conservatives were demanding Romney apologize for his plan, he delivered a forceful speech in which said, "I also recognize that a lot of pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say: This whole thing was a mistake; that it was just a boneheaded idea, and I should just admit it — it was a mistake and walk away from it. It wouldn't be honest. I, in fact, did what I believed was right for the people of my state."

And so the guy who actually made health coverage a government guarantee in Massachusetts is criticizing the mindset that health care should be a government guarantee in general. It's odd.

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Ezra Klein · September 18, 2012