White House Consulted Romneycare Advisers To Shape Obamacare

Mitt Romney responds to Democrats’ claims that President Obama modeled the Affordable Care Act on his 2006 Massachusetts health reform law, by asking why the president didn’t call him for advice. Today, Michael Isikoff reports that the administration did something much more useful — it consulted Romney’s closest advisers, holding “a dozen meetings in 2009 with three health-care advisers and experts who helped shape the health care reform law signed by Romney in 2006”:

The records, gleaned from White House visitor logs reviewed by NBC News, show that senior White House officials had a dozen meetings in 2009 with three health-care advisers and experts who helped shape the health care reform law signed by Romney in 2006, when the Republican presidential candidate was governor of Massachusetts. One of those meetings, on July 20, 2009, was in the Oval Office and presided over by President Barack Obama, the records show.

“The White House wanted to lean a lot on what we’d done in Massachusetts,” said Jon Gruber, an MIT economist who advised the Romney administration on health care and who attended five meetings at the Obama White House in 2009, including the meeting with the president. “They really wanted to know how we can take that same approach we used in Massachusetts and turn that into a national model.” […]

Romney is “the father of health-care reform,” said Gruber. “I think he is the single person most responsible for health care reform in the United States. … I’m not trying to make a political position or a political statement, I honestly feel that way. If Mitt Romney had not stood up for this reform in Massachusetts … I don’t think it would have happened nationally. So I think he really is the guy with whom it all starts.”

After reform became law, Obama repeatedly credited Romney for the idea, telling the Today show in March of 2010, “[W]hen you actually look at the bill itself, it incorporates all sorts of Republican ideas. I mean a lot of commentators have said this is sort of similar to the bill that Mitt Romney, the Republican governor and now presidential candidate, passed in Massachusetts. A lot of the ideas in terms of the exchange, just being able to pool and improve the purchasing power of individuals in the insurance market.” Obama resisted the individual mandate as a candidate, but endorsed the provision at the urging of former Director of the White House Office of Health Care Reform Nancy-Anne DeParle, who argued that “Obama should embrace a plan much like that in Massachusetts, driven by the teeth of a mandate,” Ron Suskind writes in his new book Confidence Men.

And while the Affordable Care Act borrows substantially from the Massachusetts reform — it establishes the mandate and the exchanges, for instance — the federal law includes cost containment provisions that the Massachusetts measure lacks. Below is a comparison:

Major Provisions Affordable Care Act Massachusetts Health Law
Individual Mandate Yes Yes
Employer Responsibility Yes — but not required to provide coverage Yes — required to provide coverage
Affordability Credits Yes Yes
Standard Benefit Package Yes — w/o abortion services Yes — w/ abortion services
Establishes Exchanges Yes Yes
Prohibits Insurance Company From Canceling Coverage Yes Yes
Bans Denying Medical Coverage For Pre-existing Conditions Yes Yes
Medicaid Expansion Yes Yes
Medicare Savings Yes No Authority
Delivery System Reforms Yes No