Romney Won't Adapt Mass. Plan

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) is working to get more Latinos to know that he is one of them.
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) is working to get more Latinos to know that he is one of them. (By Charlie Neibergall -- Associated Press)
Friday, August 24, 2007


Romney Won't Adapt Mass. Plan

While governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney helped write an innovative plan that created universal health insurance in his state through offering tax subsidies for low-income people, expanding the number of people on public programs such as Medicaid, and creating a state agency that made it easier for people to buy private insurance. It has become a model for Democrats and Republicans around the country.

But if voters are looking for that kind of plan for the whole country, they should look to Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and former senator John Edwards (N.C.), who have offered approaches to creating universal health care that would largely take the Massachusetts model to a national level.

Romney, a GOP presidential candidate, is to outline a much more careful, limited vision for health-care reform than those two Democrats in a speech today in Florida, as Republican primary voters are wary of large expansions of the government into health care.

According to his campaign, Romney will argue that a "one size fits all national health-care system is bound to fail," and will instead call for states to take the lead on reform.

Like President Bush and another GOP candidate, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Romney would create tax benefits for people who buy private insurance. He would also reduce the requirements that states and the federal government put on private plans.

In laying out this proposal, Romney is continuing his delicate discussion of the health-care law he signed in Massachusetts last year. He is eager to tout his achievement as governor, where he took on a public policy issue that has bedeviled politicians on both sides of the aisle, most notably Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yesterday, the senator from New York laid out a proposal to improve health-care quality in New Hampshire and will offer an agenda next month to cover the country's 45 million uninsured.

Romney calls for national solutions on issues such as education, but he has argued that health care should be handled state by state. This allows him to avoid answering questions on whether he would require all Americans to buy insurance -- a provision in the Massachusetts law that might not be well received by GOP voters.

-- Perry Bacon Jr.


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