Mitt Romney repeatedly slammed Obamacare during the first presidential debate Wednesday night, asserting that while his own Massachusetts health reform law was an innovative way to insure Americans, Obamacare is an overreach and “government takeover” of health care. Attempting to tack to the center in the final month of the presidential campaign, Romney made a series of contradictory claims about his health care plan in order to make it seem as appealing as possible to voters.
But he repeatedly ran afoul of his own past statements and widely accepted policy realities, cherry-picking the most popular consumer protections that Romneycare shares with Obamacare while appealing to his conservative base and distancing himself from the law as a whole.
Here are six instances when Romney embraced provisions of the law he also promised to repeal:
— First of all, I like the way we did [health reform] in Massachusetts.
— Let — well, actually — actually it’s — it’s — it’s a lengthy description, but number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.
— Number two, young people are able to stay on their family plan. That’s already offered in the private marketplace; you don’t have — have the government mandate that for that to occur.
— And what we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation, state by state.
— The federal government taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the 10th Amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is not the course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy.
— We’ll put in place the kind of principles that I put in place in my own state and allow each state to craft their own programs to get people insured.
Notice that Romney suggests that his plan will protect consumers by imposing government mandates, and then he proceeds to slam Obamacare for imposing government mandates.
This is not the first time that Romney has held up the consumer protections in his reform law as a potential archetype for the nation, and while he has a lengthy history of heralding Obamacare’s individual mandate as a creative and responsible mechanism for reforming insurance without skyrocketing consumers’ premiums, he has sprinted away from it during his campaign for the presidency.
Romney’s campaign health care plan is different from what he presented during Wednesday’s debate. Under his plan, Romney would transition Medicare from a defined-benefit program into a system of vouchers, block grant Medicaid to the states, and rely on demonstrably inefficient and ineffective policies such as high-risk pools and allowing consumers to purchase coverage across state lines to insure Americans.