MITT ROMNEY: When [the uninsured] show up at the hospital, they get care. They get free care, paid for by you and me. If that’s not a form of socialism, I don’t know what is. So my plan [Romneycare] did something quite different. It said, you know what?, if people can afford to buy insurance, if they can afford to buy insurance, or if they can pay their own way, then they either buy that insurance or pay their own way, but they no longer look to government to hand out free care. And that, in my opinion, is the ultimate conservatism.
That’s why the Heritage Foundation worked with us and was at the celebration of the signing — the Heritage Foundation, as you know, a quintessentially conservative group, recognized that the principles of free enterprise and personal responsibility were at work. You know, I’m proud to talk about what we did. We did not need to raise taxes. We did not need to have the government take over healthcare. Instead we rely on private market dynamics to get people in our state insured and for individuals to finally take responsibility for some portion of their healthcare rather than expecting government to give ‘em a free ride.
From a report by Michael Issikoff, NBC News, on Oct. 11, 2011:
Newly obtained White House records provide fresh details on how senior Obama administration officials used Mitt Romney’s landmark health-care law in Massachusetts as a model for the new federal law, including recruiting some of Romney’s own health care advisers and experts to help craft the act now derided by Republicans as “Obamacare.”
The records, gleaned from White House visitor logs reviewed by NBC News, show that senior White House officials had a dozen meetings in 2009 with three health-care advisers and experts who helped shape the health care reform law signed by Romney in 2006, when the Republican presidential candidate was governor of Massachusetts. One of those meetings, on July 20, 2009, was in the Oval Office and presided over by President Barack Obama, the records show.
“The White House wanted to lean a lot on what we’d done in Massachusetts,” said Jon Gruber, an MIT economist who advised the Romney administration on health care and who attended five meetings at the Obama White House in 2009, including the meeting with the president. “They really wanted to know how we can take that same approach we used in Massachusetts and turn that into a national model.”
Romney has forcefully defended the Massachusetts law he signed, but says he is adamantly against a “one-size-fits-all national health-care system” imposed on all 50 states. “I will repeal Obamacare,” he has said. “And on day one of my administration, I will grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states.”
Asked about the White House records Tuesday at a press conference announcing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s endorsement, Romney said the people involved in the White House meetings were “consultants,” not “aides.” He added that “one person (Obama) should have talked to was me.”
The response echoed comments that Romney made last April after Obama suggested the White House had borrowed from his law in Massachusetts.
And there’s this exchange from one of the 2012 GOP primary “klown Kar” debates:
ROMNEY: Actually, Newt, we got the idea of an individual mandate from you.
GINGRICH: That’s not true. You got it from the Heritage Foundation.
ROMNEY: Yes, we got it from you, and you got it from the Heritage Foundation and from you.
GINGRICH: Wait a second. What you just said is not true. You did not get that from me. You got it from the Heritage Foundation.
ROMNEY: And you never supported them?
GINGRICH: I agree with them, but I’m just saying, what you said to this audience just now plain wasn’t true.
ROMNEY: OK. Let me ask, have you supported in the past an individual mandate?
GINGRICH: I absolutely did with the Heritage Foundation against Hillarycare.
ROMNEY: You did support an individual mandate?
ROMNEY: Oh, OK. That’s what I’m saying. We got the idea from you and the Heritage Foundation.
GINGRICH: OK. A little broader.
After the debate, right-wing propagandists and Wall St. Journal columnist (I know, what’s the dif?) James Taranto, who worked at Heritage when the plan that became Romneycare and Obamacare was developed there, confirmed that the ACA is based on the Heritage plan:
The Democratic propaganda site ThinkProgress joined in, tweeting a similar tu quoque in defense of ObamaCare: “FACT: Basis for socialist Obamacare, the individual mandate, originated with right-wing Heritage Foundation #truth.”
Is it the #truth? Yes, but it’s a little more complicated than the ThinkProgs let on. Heritage did put forward the idea of an individual mandate, though it predated HillaryCare by several years. We know this because we were there: In 1988-90, we were employed at Heritage as a public relations associate (a junior writer and editor), and we wrote at least one press release for a publication touting Heritage’s plan for comprehensive legislation to provide universal “quality, affordable health care.”
As a junior publicist, we weren’t being paid for our personal opinions. But we are now, so you will be the first to know that when we worked at Heritage, we hated the Heritage plan, especially the individual mandate. “Universal health care” was neither already established nor inevitable, and we thought the foundation had made a serious philosophical and strategic error in accepting rather than disputing the left-liberal notion that the provision of “quality, affordable health care” to everyone was a proper role of government. As to the mandate, we remember reading about it and thinking: “I thought we were supposed to be for freedom.”
The plan was introduced in a 1989 book, “A National Health System for America” by Stuart Butler and Edmund Haislmaier. We seem to have mislaid our copy, and we couldn’t find it online, but we did track down a 1990 Backgrounder and a 1991 lecture by Butler that outline the plan. One of its two major planks, the equalization of tax treatment for individually purchased and employer-provided health insurance, seemed sensible and unobjectionable, at least in principle.
But the other was the mandate, described as a “Health Care Social Contract” and fleshed out in the lecture:
We would include a mandate in our proposal–not a mandate on employers, but a mandate on heads of households–to obtain at least a basic package of health insurance for themselves and their families. That would have to include, by federal law, a catastrophic provision in the form of a stop loss for a family’s total health outlays. It would have to include all members of the family, and it might also include certain very specific services, such as preventive care, well baby visits, and other items.
The Heritage mandate, at least in theory, would have been less burdensome than the ObamaCare one. You’d have to be covered against catastrophically costly conditions but could choose to buy additional insurance or pay out of pocket for everyday medical needs. On the other hand, Butler’s vague language–“it might also include certain very specific services . . . and other items”–would seem to leave the door wide open for limitless expansion.