Likely GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney refused to say if the individual mandate that was part of the health care reform law he enacted in Massachusetts five years ago yesterday was a mistake, dodging a pointed question from CNBC’s Larry Kudlow. Romney did not warmly embrace his reforms — which bear many striking similarities to the Affordable Care Act — referring to the law as an “experiment” that is “not perfect.”
Pressed specifically on the mandate, Romney regurgitated his argument about states finding their own solutions to the health care crisis:
KUDLOW: Did the mandate work Governor? Because that’s the big sticky point. It’s also the subject of the various court protests going on right now, which may overturn Obamacare. The mandate, was that your biggest mistake in Massachusetts?
ROMNEY: One thing I learned, is this. That you don’t take ideas from a state and try to impose them on a whole nation. Our nation is too diverse, too different to say that what works in Massachusetts is somehow going to be grabbed by the federal government, usurping the power of states and imposing a one-size-fits all plan on the nation.
Romney’s answer represents a striking shift in both tone and emphasis. During an appearance on Fox News Sunday in March 2010, for instance, Romney highlighted his support for the law and the individual health insurance mandate. “I think our plan is working well. And perhaps the best thing I can say about it, it’s saving lives. It is the ultimate pro-life effort,” he said. “We said people have to take responsibility for getting insurance if they can afford it or paying their own way. No more free riders.”
Romney described the law as “the ultimate conservative plan,” touted the fact that 98 percent of Massachusetts residents now have health insurance, and said that the plan is “coming in below budget.” Watch that interview here.