Former Romney Adviser Jonathan Gruber: Without RomneyCare, We Wouldn’t Have ObamaCare

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has attempted to distance his statewide health care plan from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as he positions himself for the 2012 presidential primaries.

But MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who advised both Romney and President Obama on their health care reform plans, told the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin today that without Romney’s plan (and more specifically, that plan’s individual mandate) President Obama never could have gotten his plan through Congress:

He says that as the federal health care plan emerged, the Massachusetts plan was “widely discussed.” […]

In his opinion, without the Massachusetts plan the federal individual mandate plan wouldn’t have garnered acceptance and gotten through. “It was huge,” Gruber says, to have the Massachusetts plan to point to. And without it, he thinks “it’s likely” ObamaCare wouldn’t have become law.

While there was extensive debate about the individual mandate, Gruber said, its inclusion was ultimately Romney’s decision, and the former governor was the plan’s biggest “champion.” Gruber is also skeptical of the argument Romney now makes, that the Massachusetts reform is different because it is a state-controlled plan. Gruber said that it is incorrect to say, “Massachusetts did it on its own,” since it received federal funding to implement the proposal.


A Romney spokesperson declined to respond to Gruber’s claim, saying only that Romney is “proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting health insurance to everyone,” but that he still supports repeal of the ACA and a “state-by-state approach to health reform.”

Romney’s health care reform — particularly the individual mandate — has greatly expanded coverage in the state. Currently, 98 percent of Massachusetts residents, including 99.8 percent of children, are enrolled in a health care plan — the highest in the nation. As Gruber notes, it is both “sad” and “depressing” that Romney has to run away from that sort of an accomplishment in order to satisfy conservative primary voters.