ThinkProgress filed this report from Irmo, SC
In trying to tout the success of the health reform plan he signed into law while simultaneously distancing himself from its similarities to the Affordable Care Act, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has advocated for a federalist approach to health reform. States, he says, should be able to choose their own path of reform, and those paths will vary.
The most recent state to make headway on its own significant reforms is Vermont, where legislators recently passed a law converting the state’s health system into a single payer plan. Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) just signed the bill into law this morning. Though Romney and the entire conservative movement are fundamentally opposed to single payer health care, Romney said at a campaign event in Iowa last week that Vermont’s approach is part of the “nature of democracy” in a federal system. Even if he thinks it will be “a disaster,” he said it’s appropriate for Vermont to try single payer:
ROMNEY: That’s the nature of federalism, and democracy. There are a lot of things that go on in this country that I don’t agree with. There are certain things other states do that I don’t agree with. But I believe in the right of the people in a state to pursue policies which they think are in their best interests, and then try them out. But I think if a state tries something like a single payer system, they’ll find out in a big hurry that it’s a disaster. And the people of that state will throw out that government and put in place people who will do something a lot smarter.
In asserting that states had the right to institute reform plans he doesn’t agree with, Romney remained consistent in calling for reform at the state level, as opposed to the federal plan passed by Congressional Democrats and signed by President Obama in 2010.
During his speech to a group of Columbia-area small business leaders, Romney reasserted that he would issue health reform waivers to all 50 states on his first day in office should he become president. After that, he said, he would seek to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which bears striking resemblance to the Massachusetts plan Romney himself signed into law in 2006.
As ThinkProgress has noted, however, Romney hasn’t always supported the federalist approach to reforming health care. Before congressional Republicans reversed their prior support for an individual mandate, Romney often said the successful Massachusetts plan should be a model for federal health reform legislation.
Romney’s stance is particularly ironic considering that, as ThinkProgress’ Igor Volsky points out, the health care plan that the potential presidential candidate put forward earlier this month would undermine states’ abilities to create their own health care systems by allowing insurance plans to be sold across state lines and thus “circumvent state consumer protections and regulations.”