What Mike Huckabee Gets Wrong About RomneyCare

Politico’s Maggie Haberman scoured through Gov. Mike Huckabee’s new book A Simple Government to find that the likely presidential candidate is doubling down on his criticism of Mitt Romney’s signature health reform law in Massachusetts, arguing that reform has failed to control health care costs:

If our goal in health-care reform is better care at lower cost, then we should take a lesson from RomneyCare, which shows that socialized medicine does not work,” he writes. […]

“Not only is ObamaCare cost prohibitive, it’s already been shown to not work!” Huckabee writes on page 84 of his book.

“In chapter 2, I mentioned how the federal government ignored the negative results of the health-care ‘experiment’ known as RomneyCare. It could be argued that if RomneyCare were a patient, the prognosis would be dismal. ‘No one but Mr. Romney disagrees,’ quipped Joseph Rago, senior editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal, in a piece entitled ‘The Massachusetts Health-Care Train Wreck.'” […]

A noble goal, indeed, but when the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation stepped into the lab to examine this experiment-in-progress, they found that health care, which was 16 percent of the state budget in 1990, had jumped to 35 percent in 2010. (That’s not a typo; health care is consuming over a third of the entire state budget!),” Huckabee writes. He adds, “You get one guess as to who now has the highest average health-insurance premiums in the country. Yep, it’s Massachusetts!

Of course, Romney or anyone else associated with the very popular 2006 law would be the first to admit that unlike the Affordable Care Act, Massachusetts reform expanded access to care without controlling health care spending and as a result costs are now consuming a greater portion of the state budget.

As Romney himself explained in 2009, “when we were looking at solving the health care challenge here in Massachusetts, our focus was on getting people who were uninsured insured and stopping the practice of passing their cost on to the rest of the population. We really were unable to deal with and didn’t have any pretense that we would somehow be able to change health care costs in Massachusetts.” “Massachusetts is a model for getting everybody insured in a way that doesn’t break the bank and that doesn’t put the government into the driver’s seat and allows people to own their own insurance policies and not to have to worry about losing coverage,” he added.

Massachusetts reform proved that the individual and employer mandates can successfully increase access to coverage while showing that lawmakers must do more to control health spending. In fact, Gov. Deval Patrick has recently introduced a plan to contain costs.

During an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday night, Huckabee called RomneyCare the “800 pound gorilla in the room for him” and said that the Massachusetts governor should just fess up and admit his health care program’s not working.

“The position he should take is to say: ‘Look, the reason Obamacare won’t work is because we’ve tried it at the state level and we know it won’t work,'” Huckabee told AP. “It cost more, waiting times were higher, quality of care went down, people were greatly dissatisfied and it ended up having almost the polar opposite effect of what was intended.” Despite Huckabee’s assertions, countless surveys found that a majority of resident overwhelmingly approve of the state’s health care overhaul.