In today’s Washington Post, Tim Pawlenty has an op-ed urging Washington to learn from health care reform experiences at the state level. Not surprisingly, he touts reform efforts in Minnesota, but it’s also noteworthy that he takes aim at the Massachusetts overhaul that was led by Mitt Romney (though he doesn’t mention Romney by name). Not that Pawlenty is a free market puritan on health care — he supported SCHIP, for example — but the disastrous results of Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts could prove a big obstacle for him during the 2012 Republican primaries in which at the moment, he’s viewed as the very early frontrunner.
Romney has tried to have it both ways on health care. On the one hand, he points to health care as an example of his ability as an executive to get things done, yet at the same time he blames the Democratic legislature for changing his original plan (even though he signed it with changes, knowing that he wouldn’t be around to oversee its implementation and that his successor would likely be a Democrat). He wants to take credit for the fact that his plan expanded coverage, but doesn’t want to accept blame for the endless wait times for doctors, skyrocketing costs and the fiscal crisis that went along with that expanded coverage. He claims that his plan is a free market alternative to a government takeover of health care, and yet it’s a plan that expanded Medicaid rolls, forced individuals to purchase insurance or pay a tax, and had government provide subsidies to people to purchase a government-run insurance on a government-run exchange. Anybody worried about life under ObamaCare should not be a fan of RomneyCare — other than the absence of a government plan in the exchange, both plans are structurally very similar.
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