This morning, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual Washington gathering of political activists and potential Republican presidential hopefuls. Romney’s much-anticipated speech was full of punch lines and jokes poking fun at President Obama, but made no mention of the universal health care reform bill he signed into law while governor — a sore point for many conservative activists and critics of “Obamacare.”
That law, which requires every Massachusetts resident to purchase health insurance coverage, establishes health exchanges, expands the Medicaid program, subsidizes coverage for lower-income people, offers abortion coverage, and requires insurers to offer a comprehensive set of benefits, has been widely compared to the Affordable Care Act enacted by Obama in March 2010 [See a comparison table of the two plans here]. Romney “has defended the Massachusetts health care law by saying insurance mandates should be the prerogative of states and not the federal government,” and has tried to distance himself from national reform, which he believes is unconstitutional and must be repealed, by arguing that Obama was “wrong” to “take what is designed for one state and say we are going to apply that in every state.”
The former governor went a step further in the paperback edition of his book, “No Apology,” in which Romney emphasized the changes he would have made to the plan and how it’s different from “Obamacare.” Notably, these passages are much different than what appeared in the hardcover version of the book.
“First, of course, I would reinstitute my vetoes of the legislature’s additions,” Romney writes in the paperback version, stressing that he believes that the “state should not mandate which benefits must be included in health insurance policies.” He also says that he would change the structure of the individual mandate to “provided a tax break for those who have health insurance rather than a tax penalty for those without health insurance.”
Despite these two attempts in one week to hide his own accomplishments, Romney hasn’t always been so bashful. In October of 2009, Romney urged Democrats to use the Massachusetts law as a model to expand coverage. “We have found that we can get everybody insured without breaking the bank and without a public option,” Romney told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta. “Massachusetts is a model for getting everybody insured in a way that doesn’t break the bank, doesn’t put the government in the driver’s seat and allows people to own their own insurance policies and not to have to worry about losing coverage. That’s what Massachusetts did,” he said.
— ThinkProgress intern Paul Breer contributed research to this post
Cross-posted from the Wonk Room.