Let States Decide
While he was governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney helped author an innovative plan that created universal health insurance in his state through a combination of tax subsidies for low-income people, expanding the number people on public programs like Medicaid and creating a state-agency that made it easier for people to buy private insurance. It's become a model for Democrats and Republicans around the country.
But if voters are looking for that kind of plan for the whole country, they should look to Barack Obama and John Edwards, two Democrats who have offered approaches to creating universal health care that would largely take the Massachusetts model to a national level.
Romney, himself a GOP presidential candidate, will outline a much more careful, limited vision for health care reform than those two Democrats in a speech today in Florida, as Republican primary voters are wary of large expansions of the government into health care.
According to his campaign, Romney will argue that a "one size fits all national health care system is bound to fail," and instead call for states to take the lead on reform.
A Romney administration would attempt to combine the money the federal government provides each state to pay for health care into block grants, which states can use to expand health insurance.
Like both President Bush and another GOP candidate, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Romney would create tax benefits for people who buy their own private insurance. He would also reduce the requirements that states and the federal government put on private plans, a measure Republicans agree will make private insurance cheaper.
In laying out this proposal, Romney is continuing his delicate discussion of the health care law he signed in Massachusetts last year. He's eager to tout his achievement as governor, where he took on a public policy issue that has bedeviled politicians on both sides of the aisle, most notably another candidate, Hillary Clinton. The New York Senator laid out a proposal to improve health care quality in New Hampshire yesterday, and will offer an agenda to cover the country's 45 million uninsured next month.
Romney has been the only Republican speaking frequently on the stump about health care so far. While he calls for national solutions on issues like education, Romney has argued health care should be handled on a state-by-state level. This allows him to avoid answering questions on whether he would require all Americans to purchase insurance -- a provision in the Massachusetts law he signed into law that might not be well received by GOP voters.
--Perry Bacon Jr.
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