Newt Gingrich previewed his attacks against Romneycare during a press conference in Iowa this afternoon, repeatedly hitting the former Massachusetts governor for signing legislation that allowed for tax-payer funding of abortion and “includes a requirement that an advisory panel appoint one member from Planned Parenthood.” Gingrich predicted that South Carolina’s conservative primary voters, who go to the ballot on Jan. 21, would break for him once they “learn that [Romney] put Planned Parenthood by law into Romneycare, they learn that he has tax-payed abortions as part of Romneycare,” the former speaker said. He also deflected any suggestion that he himself carries health care baggage that Republican voters oppose:
Q: How would you go forward attacking Obamacare? You have at one point supported an individual mandate, like Mitt Romney…but how would your strategy going forward be different?
GINGRICH: It’s real easy. I said, we looked at it, we studied it, we concluded it was wrong. And unlike Romney, I’ve concluded it was wrong — he is still defending it. Nobody at the White House said they relied on Gingrichcare to design Obamacare. They have said very clearly they relied on Romneycare. They actually had Romney staff in the White House helping design Obamacare. None of my staff were invited.
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Indeed, uninsured Massachusetts residents below 300 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) can participate in the state-subsidized Commonwealth Care program, where members receive health services by enrolling in health plans which cover a comprehensive package of benefits like “doctor’s visits, surgery, radiology and lab” and abortion services. The package of services was not specifically developed or approved by Romney — in fact he vetoed a provision for essential health benefits — but he has previously described the law as a whole as “the ultimate pro-life effort.” Section 16M (a) of Romney’s health care law, however, does state: “There shall be a MassHealth payment policy advisory board. The board shall consist of…1 member appointed by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.”
Gingrich actually supported various provisions that were ultimately included in Obamacare until as recently as last year and even praised Romneycare in a 2006 newsletter, saying, “The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to affect major change in the American health system. We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goals should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans.”