Anniversaries are not really news, and I’d happily let the sixth anniversary of Massachusetts health reform pass unremarked — really, is there that much more to be said on the topic now than there was last year? Except that the reform’s political resonance is more national and more important than ever in this pre-election season. WBUR’s Ben Swasey writes here about Gov. Deval Patrick’s ceremony today marking the anniversary — at that very same Faneuil Hall where the 2006 reform was signed, but with a very different cast of characters. He writes:
It’s not hard to see some political calculus involved in today’s ceremony. Patrick, the AP notes, is a co-chair of Obama’s re-election campaign. Romney, who is increasingly likely to be Obama’s challenger in the general election, has faced some GOP criticism for his support of the Massachusetts law, while also pledging to repeal the national law if elected president.
WBUR’s intrepid political reporter Fred Thys attended the celebration and reports:
Governor Deval Patrick is heaping praise upon former Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for signing Massachusetts’ health care law. Patrick is working to re-elect President Obama, and the remarks help give weight to the fears that many Republicans have about Romney.
It was only yesterday that Mitt Romney finally managed to eliminate his principal rival in the race for the Republican nominaiton, Rick Santorum. Many of the conservative Republicans who supported Santorum distrust Romney because he’s responsible for the requirement that everyone in Massachusetts buy health insurance. This afternoon, speaking through a poor sound system at Faneuil Hall, where Romney signed the Massachusetts health care law 6 years ago, Deval Patrick reminded everyone of that fact.
“It’s a classic insurance concept, which is that you spread the risk as broadly as possible but keep costs down for everybody,” Patrick said. “It’s working here. I know, or at least I sense he’s personally proud of it because there’s a facsimile of it that appears in his official portrait, which is hanging in the Governor’s office and why not be proud of something that has helped so many people?”
But not everyone at the ceremony was willing to give Romney so much credit. Former Senate President Robert Travaglini said it was the Senate that pushed for reform.
“Romney had the political skills and sense to realize that there was a potential victory here, and at the time, he was looking for victories as evidence of his success in a blue state,” said Travaglini.
Travaglini said Romney was not the driving force or even a leader in getting the Massachusetts health care law passed.