Santorum: 'Yes, Governor Romney, There Is Something to Get Mad About'

January 27, 2012 - 9:10 AM

debate

Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, participate in the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(CNSNews.com) - After a debate performance that drew applause Thursday night, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum on Wednesday repeated his criticism of health insurance plans that require people -- "as a condition of breathing in America" -- to buy  private-sector insurance or be fined by the government.

At Thursday's debate in Florida, Santorum was trying to make the point that the health care system then-Gov. Mitt Romney imposed on Massachusetts was no different than the system President Obama has imposed on the nation. “Those are not the clear contrasts we need if we're going to defeat Barack Obama,” Santorum said Thursday night.

Romney conceded that in Massachusetts, "Everyone has a requirement to either buy insurance or pay the state for the cost of providing them free care."

"First, of all, it's not worth getting angry about," Romney told Santorum.

"Yes, Governor Romney, there is something to get mad about," Santorum told Fox & Friends on Friday. "I was reflecting that anger -- with not anger, but passion -- to make sure we have a nominee who is contrasted with Barack Obama on the most important issue of freedom in this country -- and that is Obamacare.

"And what Gov. Romney did last night was stand up and forcefully defend government controlling the health care system at the state level; and he's trying to say, 'Well, that will differentiate myself from President Obama -- that I'm just for government control at the state level, not the federal level.’ That's hooey.

"The bottom line is, he's (Romney's) for government control of health care, which is not a conservative principle, which does not differentiate himself (from) President Obama, and that is a big, big liability for us going into this general election."

The entire exchange between Santorum and Romney at Thursday's debate follows:

ROMNEY: The system that we put in place in our state was something we worked out with the labor community, the health care community, business, and the citizens of the nation. We came together, it was voted by a 200-person legislature. Only two voted no.

Our system has a lot of flaws, a lot of things I'd do differently. It has a lot of benefits. The people of the state like it by about three to one.

We consider it very different than Obamacare. If I were president, day one I will take action to repeal Obamacare. It's bad medicine. It's bad economy. I'll repeal it. (Applause)

ROMNEY continues: And I believe the people -- I believe the people of each state should be able to craft programs that they feel are best for their people. I think ours is working pretty well. If I were governor, it would work a heck of a lot better.

SANTORUM: What Governor Romney just said is that government-run top-down medicine is working pretty well in Massachusetts and he supports it. Now, think about what that means going up against Barack Obama, who you are going to claim, well, top-down government-run medicine on the federal level doesn't work and we should repeal it. And he's going to say, wait a minute, Governor. You just said that top-down government-run medicine in Massachusetts works well.

Folks, we can't give this issue away in this election. It is about fundamental freedom. Whether the United States government or even a state government -- you have Amendment 1 here offered by (State Rep.) Scott Plakon, who by the way endorsed me today -- and it's going to be on your ballot as to whether there should be a government mandate here in Florida.

According to Governor Romney, that's OK. If the state does it, that's OK. If the state wants to enforce it, that's OK. Those are not the clear contrasts we need if we're going to defeat Barack Obama and a --

ROMNEY: Rick, I make enough mistakes in what I say, not for you to add more mistakes to what I say. I didn't say I'm in favor of top-down, government-run health care -- 92 percent of the people in my state had insurance before our plan went in place. And nothing changes for them. They own the same private insurance they had before.

And for the 8 percent of people who didn't have insurance, we said to them, if you can afford insurance, buy it yourself, any one of the plans out there, you can choose any plan. There's no government plan.

And if you don't want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill, because under federal law if someone doesn't have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. So we said, no more, no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility.

Either get the insurance or help pay for your care. And that was the conclusion that we reached.

SANTORUM: Does everybody in Massachusetts have a requirement to buy health care?

ROMNEY: Everyone has a requirement to either buy it or pay the state for the cost of providing them free care. Because the idea of people getting something for free when they could afford to care for themselves is something that we decided in our state was not a good idea.

SANTORUM: So, in Massachusetts... (APPLAUSE)  Just so I understand this, in Massachusetts, everybody is mandated as a condition of breathing in Massachusetts, to buy health insurance, and if you don't, and if you don't, you have to pay a fine.

What’s happened in Massachusetts is that people are now paying the fine because health insurance is so expensive. And you have a pre-existing condition clause in yours, just like Barack Obama.

So what is happening in Massachusetts, the people that Governor Romney said he wanted to go after, the people that were free-riding, free ridership has gone up five-fold in Massachusetts. Five times the rate it was before. Why? Because...

ROMNEY: That's total, complete...

SANTORUM: I'll be happy to give you the study. Five times the rate it has gone up. Why? Because people are ready to pay a cheaper fine and then be able to sign up to insurance, which are now guaranteed under "Romney-care," than pay high cost insurance, which is what has happened as a result of "Romney-care."

ROMNEY: First of all, it's not worth getting angry about. Secondly, the...(applause) Secondly, 98 percent of the people have insurance. And so the idea that more people are free-riding the system is simply impossible. Half of those people got insurance on their own. Others got help in buying the insurance.

Look, I know you don't like the plan that we had. I don't like the Obama plan. His plan cuts Medicare by $500 billion. We didn't, of course, touch anything like that. He raises taxes by $500 billion. We didn't do that.

He wasn't interested in the 8 percent of the people that were uninsured. He was concerned about the 100 percent of the people of the country. "Obama-care" takes over health care for the American people.

If I'm president of the United States, I will stop it. And in debating Barack Obama, I will be able to show that I have passion and concern for the people in this country that need health care, like this young woman who asked the question.

But I will be able to point out that what he did was wrong. It was bad medicine, it's bad for the economy, and I will repeal it.