Mitt Romney seemed to embrace a proposal that includes a national mandate to purchase health care insurance, during an interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register on Tuesday, criticizing President Obama for failing to accept a reform plan offered by former Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
That plan, which shares some similarities with the Affordable Care Act, established state-based purchasing pools and required almost everyone “to enroll in a private insurance plan.” Individuals and families would also receive premium subsidies “on a sliding scale based on income to help make the coverage provided through the new purchasing pools affordable for low- and moderate-income families.”
Romney offered the proposal as a positive example of bipartisan cooperation in Washington. “Senator Bennett of Utah along with Senator Wyden Democrat of Oregon, put together a proposal, bipartisan proposal,” he said. “[Obama] [b]rushed [it] aside. Not a single Republican signed on”:
Throughout the presidential campaign, Romney has repeatedly insisted that states should decide whether individuals can be required to purchase coverage. But he has previously embraced a national mandate — and Wyden/Bennett specifically. During an appearance on Meet The Press in June of 2009, the former governor described the proposal as a Republican plan. “We have a health care plan,” Romney said. “You look at Wyden-Bennett. That’s a health care plan that a number of Republicans think is a very good health care plan — one that we support. Take a look at that one.”
The “Healthy Americans Act” would also “replace the current tax exclusion for employer-based health insurance premiums with a fixed income tax deduction for health insurance.” Employes would have to contribute to their employees’ health care plans, while companies who had been offering coverage, but stopped, would “increase workers’ wages by the average contribution that the employers would have made for their health plan.”