MA governor puts Romney in healthcare bear hug
Before there was Obamacare with its controversial individual mandate on health insurance, there was Romneycare in Massachusetts…with a similar mandate that all residents of the state obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. And Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was happy to remind Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, of that fact on Thursday.
After the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the centerpiece of Obama’s signature healthcare overhaul, Patrick – a key Obama surrogate – met with reporters and expressed shock at the negative spin that Romney, his predecessor in the Massachusetts governor’s mansion, continues to put on federal legislation that is similar to the state law he once championed.
Patrick said that the motivations of Congress in taking up healthcare legislation in 2009 were “the same reasons our legislature and Governor Romney acted in 2006.”
“Since Governor Romney signed healthcare reform here in Massachusetts, more private companies are offering healthcare to their employees, fewer people are getting primary care in an expensive emergency room setting and hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors have access to care they didn’t have before. We’re seeing improvements in health, especially among women and poor people. It has not busted the state budget,” Patrick said.
Romney has promised to immediately start a process to repeal the national law should he win the November election against Obama. On Thursday he linked the program to “larger and larger government” that separates citizens from their doctors and adds “trillions” of dollars to the deficit.
Au contraire, said Patrick: “Every one of the list of horrors Governor Romney now says will happen in America because of Obamacare did not happen in Massachusetts because of Romneycare,” said the Democrat, noting that 99.8 percent of the state’s children, for example, have access to quality care. Overall, more than 98 percent of state residents have insurance coverage, far above the national rate.
While Romney proclaimed the national law a “job killer,” Patrick said the certainty of health insurance coverage in Massachusetts is “attracting young people and entrepreneurs who know they can come here and take a chance on a new company and still have access to the best care in the world.”
The Massachusetts healthcare reforms remain broadly popular, with about two-thirds of state residents in favor, and have never faced a serious challenge in court.
Photo credit: Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at a signing ceremony for a healthcare reform bill for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at Faneuil Hall in Boston in this file image from April 12, 2006. REUTERS/Brian Snyder