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Rick Perry: Extending Private Health Insurance To Everyone Is ‘A Huge Problem’

Rick Perry took a shot at Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care law this morning during his first one-on-one sit down interview with Laura Ingraham. The 2006 measure, which has extended health care coverage to some 98 percent of state residents, is a “huge problem,” Perry predicted, saying that the plan paved the way for Obamacare:

INGRAHAM: What makes you a better decision-maker on health care issues than he is?

PERRY: I think he’s finally recognizing that the Massachusetts health care plan that he passed is a huge problem for him. And yea, it was not almost perfect. I truly believe that you have to have the free market in play with out health care. I think Obamacare, which was modeled after the Massachusetts plan, was an absolute debacle.

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But the Bay State’s landmark legislation is only problematic if Republican primary voters believe that extending private health care coverage to state residents is a liability. As a result of the law, almost every child is covered, more private companies are offering insurance, and state spending on uncompensated care is decreasing (the state spent $405 million on uncompensated care in 2010, nearly $300 million less than before reform was enacted in 2006.)

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Instead, Perry is suggesting that his own health care record is an asset. That a state with the highest uninsured rate in the nation — 26 percent — health premiums well above the national average, drastic cuts in reimbursement rates to hospitals, and severe doctor shortages, has a health care system to be envied? The comparison of the top-line indicators is less than flattering:

Uninsured populationUninsured childrenAverage Annual Percent GrowthInfant MortalityTexas6.2 Million (26%)1.3 Million (18%)7.4%6.3Massachusetts323,500 (5%)51,400 (3%)6.3%5.0

Still, Perry believes that he, not Romney, should serve as a model for health care reform. In July 2010, he proclaimed that Texas has “the best health care in the country,” and if Republican primary voters agree with his assessment, it will only underscore the party’s animosity towards the millions of Americans who can’t afford insurance.