Is Romney Preparing To Support Health Care Reform In The General Election?

On Sunday, the New York Times’ Kevin Sack reported on the difficulty Mitt Romney faces in convincing conservative voters that the new health care reform law is substantially different from the reform he signed in Massachusetts. “As he promotes himself as a problem-solving pragmatist, Mr. Romney can justifiably point to the landmark universal coverage law in Massachusetts that he, as governor, proposed in 2006,” Sack writes. “But as he appeals to conservative activists and Republican primary voters, he is trying to draw nuanced distinctions between his Massachusetts law and the federal legislation that shares many of its fundamental elements, including a requirement that people have insurance.”

Currently, Romney is denying that Massachusetts served as a template for national health reform reform, but Sack’s article suggests that the former Governor may be prepared to change his position if he wins the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012:

“I keep on scratching my head,” Mr. Obama said at a fund-raising reception in Boston. “I say, ‘Boy, this Massachusetts thing, who designed that?’ ”

In response, Mr. Romney is reminding audiences that Mr. Obama has cast the Republicans as the “party of no,” devoid of ideas. “And yet,” Mr. Romney said in Bedford, “he’s saying that I was the guy that came up with the idea for what he did. He can’t have it both ways.”

He added, “If ever again somewhere down the road I would be debating him, I would be happy to take credit for his accomplishment.”

Taking credit for ObamaCare shouldn’t be too difficult. Romney is already coming around to supporting key portions of the new health care law. On Monday, Romney appeared on Fox News Business and made the case for the individual mandate and subsidizing insurance to individuals who can’t afford to buy their own coverage. “Everybody in America today has health care. If they get sick, even without insurance, they get free care, paid for by government. We said no more of that. No more free riders. We want people taking personal responsibility for getting health insurance if they can afford it,” he said.

“We said, no, no. If you can afford it you have to buy insurance on your own. Half the people can afford it, bought insurance on their own. No more government subsidy for them. Others we had sliding scale based on income.” Watch it:

Last week, Romney added even more nuance to his position, telling the New Hampshire Union Leader that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to require everyone to purchase insurance coverage. “I think it’s unconstitutional on the 10th Amendment front,” he said.