Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, it turns out, defended the individual mandate requirement of his Massachusetts healthcare reform bill that would later become the model for Obamacare when he was Governor of that State.
The candidate continues to defend the State’s healthcare overhaul, saying that it was the right thing for Massachusetts. But, Romney has also been reassuring wary Republican voters that he is dedicated to doing away with Obamacare during his first days in office if he is elected President.
The Wall Street Journal dug up some emails this week from Romney’s tenure in the Governor’s office, and they really don’t do much to help him back up his claim. The emails detail discussions between Romney and his staff as they tried to figure out how to sell the people of Massachusetts on his healthcare overhaul.
“We must have an individual mandate for any plan to work,” Tim Murphy, Mr. Romney’s health secretary, wrote the governor and several aides on Feb. 16, 2006, in an email analyzing the latest confidential Democratic proposal, which he wrote was “unclear” about that requirement.
That Democratic proposal, obtained by the Journal, didn’t include such a mandate, and instead focused on “individual responsibility,” aiming to “encourage individuals to buy health insurance, not go uninsured.”
According to the emails, Mr. Romney personally drafted an op-ed article published in The Wall Street Journal the day before he signed the legislation. The draft, written on a Saturday, also defended the individual mandate, in different language from the final version of the piece as published.
Using an argument deployed today by the Obama administration, Mr. Romney defended the mandate by noting that taxpayers generally foot the bill when the uninsured seek health care.
If reiteration that Romney provided the template for Obamacare while running the State of Massachusetts — even defending what would later become one of its most controversial provisions — isn’t enough to make conservative voters have to hold their noses to support the GOP pick, there’s the fact that one of his campaign advisers stands to profit from the healthcare overhaul.
Politico reports that former Utah Governor Michael Leavitt, who appointed Romney to run the 2002 Olympic games, has already started leading the would-be Romney Administration’s transition team and is in line for the important gig of White House chief of staff. Leavitt, who served as the Health and Human Services secretary under George W. Bush, has used his expertise to set up a consulting firm that stands to profit greatly from helping States implement insurance exchanges under Obamacare.