Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) stepped up his criticism of GOP presidential primary front-runner Mitt Romney on CBS’ Face The Nation this morning, slamming Romney for providing “the basis” for the Affordable Care Act when he signed a comprehensive health reform law while he was governor of Massachusetts.
In addition to providing a model for national health care reform, RomneyCare is to blame for raising taxes, rising health care costs, and, worst of all, Santorum said, an individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance. That, Santorum said, represented a government intrusion into health care that he never has and never could support:
SANTORUM: Gov. Romney’s plan, as much as he’d like to say it’s not, was the basis of Obamacare. He was for an individual mandate, he was for government top-down control of the health care system in Massachusetts. And it’s led to the highest cost health care in the nation in Massachusetts, it’s led to higher taxes. … It is an absolute disaster. [...]
He would not have the clear record that I have…of being for government out of the health care business, being for a plan that is bottom-up, private sector health care reform. Unlike other folks in this race, I’ve had a consistent record over that time of not being for individual mandates. … He has been for individual mandates, I have not.
As Igor Volsky reported last week, however, Santorum supported an individual health insurance mandate during his 1994 Senate campaign, shortly after a host of Senate Republicans had offered the mandate as an alternative to President Clinton’s health reform plan.
And aside from the fact that RomneyCare did lay the groundwork for the Affordable Care Act — Romney repeatedly touted his plan as a national model before the ACA passed — Santorum’s criticisms are largely off-base. Massachusetts’ health costs are rising, but at rates comparable to the national average, and the cost of some premiums has fallen dramatically. Meanwhile, the state has the lowest uninsured rate in the nation, with just 4.7 percent of Bay Staters lacking health insurance.