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Health insurance and Mitt Romney

The GOP has a field of candidates who want to run for President. When the race began, the front runner was Mitt Romney but, when Rick Perry joined in, he surged into a lead. Whether he can maintain that lead is something only time can tell. The first signs are that the enthusiasm of the evangelicals and tea-partiers may not be shared by the rest of the country. Governor Perry has some interestingly partisan ideas and a Texan style of delivering them. But, if Perry is not likely to be electable, where does that leave Mitt Romney. He's more the thinking-person's candidate and, of course, he's controversial" because of his health care reforms in Massachusetts.

Let's deal with the good news. More than 90% of people living in Massachusetts are now covered by some form of health care insurance plan. That makes Romney's state the best-performing US state in making health care accessible. The less good news is the cost. The state has struggled to control the bills coming in from the health care providers and the suppliers of medication. This leaves people paying above the national average for their insurance.

Embarrassingly for the GOP, Mitt Romney's success has come from imposing a mandate on his citizens. Whereas the GOP Governors have lined up to allege the federal mandate imposed by law is unconstitutional, there's been no similar claim made in litigation against the state of Massachusetts. Indeed, you probably remember President Obama deliberately picked the Massachusetts law as his model when crafting the federal bill. So let's take a moment to consider what Mitt Romney has said about his own law and its relationship to Obamacare. Should he become President in the next election, this could give us clues about how the GOP might attempts to change the current law. In this, we can assume simply repealing Obamacare and refusing to put anything in its place is unacceptable.

Mitt Romney is a great believer in the sovereignty of the states. He thinks it's open to all states to experiment. Each state's government knows the local problems and is best placed to find solutions. This is also better for democracy because local law-makers are more directly accountable to the electorate if the voters disapprove of the laws. Indeed, it would make a nonsense of the constitution if the states' legislatures could be easily trampled by Washington on all issues. It would make the idea of sovereignty meaningless.

At the time Mitt Romney was guiding his law through the legislature, there were some twenty other states with bills under consideration. Romney therefore argues the idea of a one-size-fits-all approach from Washington makes a nonsense of sovereignty. He's for allowing each state to reform the current laws as needed to fit local needs. Given the state deficits, he proposes federal funding to the states to implement their own health insurance reform packages. He doesn't presume to believe Massachusetts has everything right. Each state would make up its own mind. So this gives you all a clear view of the issue. Rick Perry would simply repeal Obamacare and leave health insurance provision as it was in 2009. Mitt Romney might also repeal Obamacare but he's more likely to push a law to require states to consider reform.


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