Romneycare Vs. Obamacare

For a more detailed summary, click here to visit Mitt Romney Central's health care page.

A recent article in The New Yorker magazine states that "Romney had accomplished a longstanding Democratic goal - universal health insurance - by combining three conservative policies." In other words, Romney had beaten Democrats at their own goal of providing universal health insurance. But Romney's novel approach accomplished this goal not with a government takeover, but with conservative principles. The success of Romney's healthcare law led many Democrats to consider adopting a similar approach to achieving universal health insurance.

The article goes on to say that in 2006 when Romneycare was passed, "most conservatives praised Romney's plan." The Bush administration sent a letter praising the passage of the new law. An often overlooked fact is that without the support of the Bush administration, Romney's healthcare law never would have become a reality.

The Boston Globe editorial board recently published an article defending Romneycare on conservative grounds. The editorial board states "the role Romney played on the state level was skillful, creative, and business friendly. Romney was a governor sensitive to business concerns and worried about the state's business climate."

It is often asserted that Romneycare is the same thing as Obamacare, but this is simply not true. While there are similarities, there are also key differences. Below is a table of differences between the Romney plan and the Obama plan.

Overall Size and Scope
-Whole bill was 70 pages
-Romney vetoed significant sections of the bill including the employer penalty for not providing health insurance
-Romney favored an “opt out” provision from the mandate
-No federal gov. insurance option
-Intended as a market driven solution to healthcare
-Whole bill was 2,074 pages
-Very broad regulation of the insurance industry including an employer penalty for not providing health insurance and no "opt out" provision
-Leaves open the option of creating single-payer gov. insurance in the future
-Intended as a step toward gov. run insurance
-No new taxes!
-Romney balanced the state’s budget first, then passed healthcare law
-No cuts to Medicare benefits
-Modest cost to state (only added 1% to state budget)
-Increased taxes by $500 billion
-Despite massive federal gov. debt, Obama still passed Obamacare
-Cuts Medicare by $500 billion
-Overall costs unknown!
-Very strong bipartisan support
-Strong special interest support
-Very popular among the public in Massachusetts
-Strong consensus of approval was built in the state to support the law
-Consensus was built to support an individual mandate
-Absolutely no bipartisan support
-Very controversial and divided special interest groups
-Unpopular in nation overall
-No consensus was built to support a mandate
-Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on Obamacare, Romneycare will remain constitutional
-Potentially unconstitutional
-Supreme Court has yet to rule on 10th amendment limitations of federal gov. power in regard to this law
-A state solution to a state problem
-Through collaboration and discussion, Massachusetts created a consensus among stake holders to support the new law
-Federal gov. “one-size-fits-all” plan
-Doesn’t take into account that each state is unique in important ways such as:
1)Vastly different debt levels between states (some states can’t afford new spending on health care)
2)Some states have three times the percentage of uninsured citizens (Much greater costs will be imposed on states with a larger percentage of uninusured citizens)
3)Conservative states will reject implementation of federal gov. plan.

As the above table illustrates, the plan Romney proposed was a much more conservative, business friendly law than what the Democrats passed under President Obama.

One of Romney's main goals in passing healthcare legislation was to counter many much more liberal attempts within Massachusetts to take over the healthcare system. The Boston Globe newspaper discusses in detail one plan that Romney feared would become law if action was not taken. That plan was the imposition of a payroll tax of up to $1,700 per employee on all businesses who did not offer health insurance to their employees. It was a serious threat. The plan had been voted on in the year 2000 and the law barely failed by 3%. In 2006 the employer mandate coupled with a heavy payroll tax was to be voted on again.

In regard to ObamaCare, Romney firmly believes that each state should have the right to craft its own health care program. In his book, No Apology, Romney states:

"My own preference is to let each state fashion its own program to meet the distinct needs of its citizens. States could follow the Massachusetts model if they choose, or they could develop plans of their own. These plans, tested in the state 'laboratories of democracy,' could be evaluated, compared, improved upon, and adopted by others."

In keeping with the belief that states should be able to craft their own programs, Romney has said that on his first day as president, he would issue a waiver to all 50 states allowing them to opt out of ObamaCare. This waiver would allow states to postpone the implementation of ObamaCare while Romney works with congress to formally repeal the bill.