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RomneyCare: Big Speech On U.S. Health Law Coming Soon

Romney signed the state's health reform law in 2006

The Boston Globe reports that Mitt Romney will offer his own vision of a national health care plan tomorrow at a speech in Michigan.

The campaign provided The Globe with a scant outline of what RomneyCare might look like. (Hopefully the speech will be a little more fleshed out.) Here are the bullet points:

–Restore to the states the responsibility and resources to care for their poor, uninsured, and chronically ill.

–Give a tax deduction to those who buy their own health insurance, just like those who buy it through their employers.

–Streamline the federal regulation of healthcare.

–Reduce the influence of lawsuits on medical practice and costs.

–Make healthcare more like a consumer market and less like a government program.

Romney, a likely presidential candidate, has been forced to walk a fine line whenever he delves into the topic of health care. As the governor who signed Massachusetts’ landmark health overhaul into law (the same law that later served as a model for national health reform) Romney can’t escape his eternal connection to the 2006 reforms. Yet, he’s bashed Obama’s national health reform law on the campaign trail, saying what may work pretty well in Massachusetts won’t fit every state.

The speech will surely get a lot of attention. Look for market-based fixes and schemes to reduce medical malpractice cases.

A Birthday Mitt Romney Would Like To Forget

After signing Massachusetts' universal health care coverage law on April 12, 2006, then-Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands with state Health and Human Services Secretary Timothy Murphy as Sen. Edward Kennedy and others look on at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

Five years ago today, then Gov. Mitt Romney stood near Ted Kennedy and Democratic leaders of the state House and Senate and said: “Massachusetts once again, is taking a giant leap forward.” With that, he signed the state’s groundbreaking health reform bill into law.

Romney, inching ever-closer to becoming an official GOP presidential candidate, is probably not doing a lot of celebrating today.

But as WBUR’s Martha Bebinger and Bob Oakes report this morning, the state’s health law is still front and center politically: with near universal access to health insurance achieved, phase two of the law, trying to contain costs, is the top legislative priority of Gov. Deval Patrick. And on the law’s fifth birthday, experts continue to assess its impact:

There is little solid research that shows residents are healthier or are living longer as a result of the law, but there are lots of individual tributes.

Dennis Foley was 59 when he walked into an emergency room two years ago with a life-threatening foot infection. While treating that infection, doctors diagnosed diabetes, high blood pressure and a heart problem — and signed him on to the state’s health insurance plan. This was his first visit to a doctor in 30 years.

“I ended up with a severe foot infection, went to Good Samaritan Hospital,” Foley said. “It was an 18-day stay. They enrolled me in MassHealth and [I’m] doing good.”

Foley is among the 98 percent of the state’s residents who now have health insurance. Five years after enacting reform, Massachusetts has the lowest uninsured rate in the country.

Here’s an assessment findings from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation on the law after five years:

–401,000 more Massachusetts residents have health insurance coverage than did before reform.
–Massachusetts has the highest rate of insurance in the country with 98.1 percent of residents insured.
–There has been no evidence of subsidized coverage “crowding out” employer- sponsored insurance, and employer offer rates have grown from 70 percent to 76 percent since implementation of reform. Continue reading

American Spectator: RomneyCare Support ‘Toxic’ To Republicans

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney


The conservative magazine The American Spectator is taking Tea-Partier and U.S. Senator Jim DeMint to task for sounding like he’s supporting the 2006 Massachusetts health reform enacted under then-governor Mitt Romney. The magazine’s Philip Klein warns here that any seeming support for the Massachusetts reform may be downright “toxic” for Republicans:

…Beyond being ignorant, DeMint’s comments are dangerous. I’ve long argued that the Massachusetts health care plan is not only toxic to Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy, but it could prove toxic to the entire Republican Party. If Romney is excused for crafting and signing the Massachusetts health care plan, it significantly undermines the case against ObamaCare and weakens the effort to repeal it. The reason is that opposition to ObamaCare will start to look increasingly political and less about principle. It’s true that a state mandate doesn’t raise the same Constitutional questions as the federal mandate, but it still is government forcing an individual to purchase a product. These comments are especially dangerous coming from DeMint, who is known as a leading conservative and ObamaCare opponent. Let’s hope it’s an isolated incident and not part of a broader trend.

Coakley Cites Romney’s Health Law To Defend ObamaCare

Touche: Coakley invokes Romney to support Obama

How the tables have turned.

State Attorney General Martha Coakley submits a legal brief in support of President Obama’s health law — and she uses Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health law as the key ammunition to buttress her argument that the individual mandate is legitimate, Politico reports.

In a brief filed Monday in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Coakley — the Democrats’ unsuccessful 2010 Senate candidate — says the fact that Romney and the Massachusetts Legislature imposed an individual mandate as part of their health care law suggests that Congress had a “rational basis” for imposing a similar mandate in its law.

“Governor Romney and the Massachusetts Legislature, like Congress, determined that an individual health insurance mandate, as part of a comprehensive reform package, would serve to increase access to healthcare while greatly decreasing the detrimental cost-shifting caused by people who chose to forego insurance and shift the cost of their current and future healthcare to others,” Coakley wrote.

Coakley filed the amicus brief to support the Affordable Care Act against the challenge brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Mitt Romney On Mass. Health Reform: No Apologies, But Not For Everyone


I’m a little snow-addled, so I didn’t quite get the gist of what former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was saying yesterday, but I think I do now, with some help from Politico.com’s Ben Smith here.

During last year’s debate, Romney struggled to distinguish the Massachusetts plan, which his spokesman called his “signature” accomplishment as governor — with its exchange, mandates, and subsidies — from a federal plan that shared its policy pedigree and had obviously been constructed along the same lines.

One of Romney’s weak arguments was that the Massachusetts plan was fundamentally different, as a matter of policy, because it had been enacted on a state rather than federal level. The argument got little traction and Romney, after an effort in the Spring of 2010 to explain his record, simply fell silent.

Romney’s argument is now much stronger. Because the main objection to ObamaCare, as its critics call it, is no longer a matter of policy nuance. Now critics primarily make the case that it’s an unconstitutional expansion of specifically federal power. And on that turf, the similar structure of the plans doesn’t matter. Romney enacted his at a state level, and states have — conservatives argue — more power to regulate the insurance industry, as they do with car insurance.

Background: Many think that Mitt Romney’s prominent role in Massachusetts health care reform will prove a liability for him among Republican voters in his next presidential run. Voters who don’t like the federal health reform, which is partly modeled on what he helped wreak in Massachusetts, could turn against him.

But yesterday, on the talk show circuit, Romney portrayed the issue as one of states’ rights: The Massachusetts reform — extending near-universal health care access and requiring almost everyone to have insurance — works here, but that doesn’t mean the federal government should impose it on other states. In a couple of nutshells: Continue reading

Daily Rounds: The Bush Miscarriage; Demanding Dr. Famous; Cholera Hits Port-Au-Prince; Romney’s Repudiation

Bush Recollection Puts Spotlight on Miscarriage – NYTimes.com “The image of a mother handing her teenage son a jar containing the remains of her just-miscarried fetus may be a disturbing one. But the scene, described by former President George W. Bush in his interview with Matt Lauer of NBC News on Monday night, has started a national conversation — both about his mother, Barbara Bush, and about the complex psychological fallout from miscarriage.” (The New York Times)

Running a hospital: I'm sorry, Doctor Famous is busy Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy writes: “What happens when a referring doctor insists that "Doctor Famous" see his or her patient, even when other physicians on the staff can do the job just as well? In Lean terms, waste is introduced into the system. As diagnosed below: The minute an additional seemingly unnecessary step is added to the flow it adds a huge delay.” (Running A Hospital)

Cholera Is Found in Port-au-Prince, Haiti – NYTimes.com “Medical officials say they believe that there are at least 73 cases here in the capital and, based on outbreaks in other countries, they fear that cholera may become a way of life that could afflict as many as 270,000 people over the next several years.” (The New York Times)

Rick Perry Calls On Mitt Romney To 'Repudiate' His Health Care Plan (VIDEO) “PERRY: I think it's a problem to go — if he were to stand up and say "You know what, this was a program that didn't work, and I wish I hadn't tried it" — I think that would help him substantially. But the fact is: they are so similar that it is going to be a major anchor unless he stands up and repudiates that approach.” (Huffington Post)