Obama Praises Romney for ‘Assist’ in Passing Obamacare
(CNSNews.com) – Speaking to Democratic contributors near Boston Wednesday, President Barack Obama gave a tip of the hat to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – a potential opponent in the 2012 presidential race -- for an “assist” in passing national health care reform.
“Our work isn’t done. Yes, we passed health care with an assist from a former Massachusetts governor,” Obama said to laughter at the Democratic National Committee gathering in Brookline, Mass.
“Great idea,” Obama added, to more laughter. He never mentioned Romney by name.
Democrats and Obama administration officials frequently invoke Romney in defense of their health care plan – an apparent attempt to drive a wedge between Romney and conservative Republicans, who like neither Obamacare nor Romneycare.
Last week, Romney defended the Massachusetts plan he signed in 2006, which became the model for the Democrats’ Affordable Care Act. The Massachusetts plan, like Obamacare, includes an individual mandate to purchase health insurance and health insurance exchanges of government-approved plans.
In an April 2010 interview with CBS News, Obama defended the Democrats’ health care law, saying it was similar to the “sort of plan proposed by current Republican nominee Mitt Romney.”
Obama said implementing the law would be “difficult.” He said getting coverage for more people was only part of the job, along with driving down costs – “just like Massachusetts is now working on; working on delivery system reform; making sure that the 20 percent of patients who are chronically ill but account for 80 percent of the costs, that they’re getting better care; making sure that health IT is working so that the system is more efficient and has less waste. That’s going to require us rolling up our sleeves and paying attention to the hard details of policy.”
Romney’s support for the Massachusetts health care plan is considered a stumbling block in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination.
Last week in Ann Arbor, Mich., an early primary state, Romney tackled the subject head-on, but he refused to disown his Massachusetts plan, despite political pressure to do so.
“There's only one problem with that,” Romney said. “It wouldn’t be honest. I, in fact, did what I believe was right for the people of my state.”
Romney defended the Massachusetts health plan as “a state solution to a state problem,” while Obama’s health care plan was “a power grab by the federal government to put in place a one-size-fits plan across the nation.”
The Massachusetts health care plan reduced the number of uninsured to just 2.6 percent of the state’s population. However, state government spending on health care has increased 42 percent since 2006 and the program’s costs have been one-third higher than projected, according to a 2009 analysis by the National Center for Policy Analysis, a free-market think tank.
According to the NCPA, 51 percent of Massachusetts residents required to purchase insurance said they are paying more for health care, while 14 percent of those required to buy insurance said they are paying less.
Meanwhile, a survey of 15 cities found that Boston had the longest waiting time for patients to see a doctor -- double the average waiting time for the second-place city, Philadelphia.