The Wall Street Journal has uncovered a collection of emails from Mitt Romney’s time as Governor of Massachusetts that reveal a lot about Romney’s changing positions on health care. Most notably, they show the now-candidate once was a staunch defender of a health reform law with an individual mandate — a portion of the Affordable Care Act that he often criticizes.
According to the emails, Mr. Romney personally drafted an op-ed article published in The Wall Street Journal the day before he signed the legislation. The draft, written on a Saturday, also defended the individual mandate, in different language from the final version of the piece as published.
Using an argument deployed today by the Obama administration, Mr. Romney defended the mandate by noting that taxpayers generally foot the bill when the uninsured seek health care.
“Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian,” the published op-ed stated. In a line that didn’t make the edited version, Mr. Romney added: “An uninsured libertarian might counter that he could refuse the free care, but under law, that is impossible—and inhumane.”
During this election season, Romney has said he would strike down Obamacare — a federal replica of his state plan — but may preserve some of the portions of the law intact. That is in itself a change from his 2010 position that the nation should adopt an individual mandate. But these emails reveal that Romney did not just consider an individual mandate useful to Masscusetts, he considered it essential to a functional health care law — precisely what the Supreme Court is now debating.