Mitt Romney described the individual health mandate as a “conservative idea” yesterday afternoon on Sean Hannity’s radio show, just as the federal government asked the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of the provision in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“The idea for a health care plan [in Massachusetts] was not mine alone,” Romney explained. “The Heritage Foundation — a great conservative think tank — helped on that. I’m told Newt Gingrich, one of the very first people who came up with the idea of an individual mandate, did that years and years ago”:
ROMNEY: It was seen as a conservative idea to say, you know what? People have a responsibility for caring for themselves if they can. We’ll help people who can’t care for themselves, but if you can care for yourself, you gotta take care of yourself and pay your own bills.
In 2006, the Heritage Foundation — which attended the signing ceremony for the law — described Romney’s mandate as “not an unreasonable position, and one that is clearly consistent with conservative values,” claiming that it would reduce “the total cost to taxpayers” by taking people out of the “uncompensated care pool.”
Gingrich also embraced the “ultimate conservative idea,” writing in a 2007 Des Moines Register op-ed, “Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance, particularly when they can afford it, and expect others to pay for their care when they need it.” An “individual mandate,” he added, should be applied “when the larger health-care system has been fundamentally changed.”