Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) likened Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care law to socialism during a speech at the Iowa Credit Union League in Des Moines, Iowa this afternoon, saying, “the model of socialized medicine has been tried before…whether it was in Western Europe or in Massachusetts”:
PERRY: In Massachusetts the costs have increased by more than $8 billion, that’s what that socialized individual mandated health care bill they put in place in Massachusetts did. Those who had insurance are now paying the price for an individual mandate for those without insurance who must join the system. Private insurance premiums in that state have gone up by more than $4 billion. The problem with state-sponsored health care is if you cannot contain it just within the borders of your state.
Perry’s comparison about the mandate is ironic, since he signed an executive order mandating young girls to receive vaccinations for HPV, a sexually-transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer. The document — which Perry has since distanced himself from — specifically uses the word “mandate”: “The Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner shall adopt rules that mandate the age appropriate vaccination of all female children for HPV prior to admission to the sixth grade,” it read.
The mandate to obtain health insurance was first introduced by congressional Republicans as an alternative to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s health care reform bill in the 1990s. The individual mandate was developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation and supported by many prominent Republicans as recently as 2009. Romney has consistently described the provision — which requires individuals to take responsibility for their health insurance coverage — as the “ultimate conservative plan.” “I know some people say, ‘gee, your Massachusetts health care plan isn’t conservative.’ I say, ‘oh yes it is, because right now in this country people who don’t have health insurance go to the hospital if they have a serious illness and they get treated for free by government,” he told CNN in 2007. “My plan says no they can’t do that, no more free riders. People have to take personal responsibility.”
Ultimately, the Texas governor — whose state has the highest uninsurance rate in the nation and the second-highest health care premiums — can criticize Massachusetts and “Western Europe” all he wants. The truth is, the Bay State has expanded coverage to almost all residents, successfully contained spending for the newly insured population and lowered government expenditures on uncompensated care, while European countries already spend far less of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care and provide universal access to all of their citizens.