RomneyCare, the Untold Story

RomneyCare is the model for Obamacare, but is the Massachusetts experiment in universal health care REALLY what Gov. Mitt Romney wanted? Not even close. Governor Romney fully supported RomneyCare? Nope, wrong again. President Romney would support RomneyCare as his version of Obamacare. In some ways, yes, but in others, no.

Avik Roy penned an article for Forbes revealing some of the not-so-well-known stories about the passage of RomneyCare.

When Romney stepped onto that stage on April 12, 2006, he received a 30-second ovation. Behind him stood Sen. Ted Kennedy, his 1994 opponent for the U.S. Senate, and Democratic leaders of the Massachusetts legislature. George W. Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, was there. “Massachusetts is showing us a better way,” Thompson said, “one I hope policymakers in statehouses and Congress will follow to build a healthier and stronger America.”

But the bipartisan bliss didn’t last very long. Just prior to the ceremony, Romney’s aides had announced that the Governor would be vetoing several key provisions of the bill, including its employer mandate that forced all companies in the state, employing more than 10 people, to provide health coverage for their workers or pay a $295-per-person fine. Romney vetoed several other provisions of the law, including one that extended dental benefits to Medicaid patients, and another that gave certain “special status aliens” the ability to receive Medicaid benefits.

Vetoing key provisions of RomneyCare? Why has this truth been hiding under a basket?

In the end, it didn’t matter what Romney thought about the employer mandate. The Democrats controlled 85 percent of the legislature. After the bill-signing ceremony was over, they went back to the State House and overrode each of Romney’s eight vetoes.

So what Romney wanted in RomneyCare was NOT what Romney got.

it was Democrats and progressive activists who ended up implementing the Massachusetts health law, especially after Romney left office in January 2007. They took the law in a much different direction than Romney would have liked. And while Democrats have sought to credit (or blame) Romney for the passage of Obamacare, it is more accurate to say that the federal Affordable Care Act is modeled after the Democratically implemented version of the Massachusetts law, as opposed to the one that Romney had sought.

RomneyCare is really a socialist DemoCare Frankenstein monster.

RomneyCare actually is an evolutionary process set in place by years of government "reforms" that mostly served to make health care, and health insurance, more costly.

In 1996, the state legislature passed the Non-Group Health Insurance Reform Act, which forced insurers in the individual market to cover everyone, irrespective of pre-existing conditions (“guaranteed issue”), and charge nearly-equal rates to the young and the old (“community rating”).

Because these reforms allowed individuals to remain uninsured until they were sick, premiums shot up for those who tried to be responsible, and buy coverage for themselves when they were healthy. (Those who received insurance through their employers were not directly affected.) More and more individuals sought free care from emergency rooms, rather than buy costly insurance that they couldn’t afford. Insurers dropped out of the market. Things got so bad that even, the on-line insurance broker, dropped out of the state, citing the guaranteed-issue provision.

And this my friends, is why RomneyCare, and its' evil twin sister Obamacare, doesn't work so well. RomneyCare could have removed guaranteed issue and community rating, and doing so would have made it a more workable and affordable plan.

But it didn't.

Massachusetts was a state in crisis over health care funding. Their Medicaid program was in the hole and in danger of losing $385 million in federal tax dollars unless something changed. That change would be RomneyCare, but the plan as originally conceived, not the one passed by the Democrat controlled state legislature.

“Insurers tell us they can develop plans costing less than half of today’s standard rate of $500 for an individual,” Romney wrote. Shorn of the costly mandates and restrictions originating in earlier state laws, these plans, called “Commonwealth Care Basic,” could cost much less.

This was the basis for RomneyCare, but the final version did not look anything like what was on the drawing board.

Romney’s goal, with the individual mandate, was to require people to buy catastrophic insurance that would cover emergency care. Romney’s version of the mandate was designed to compensate for the effects of the federal EMTALA law, that requires hospitals to provide emergency care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. “Therefore,” writes Archambault, “the original 2005 legislation filed by Governor Romney required that Massachusetts residents carry, at a minimum, catastrophic medical coverage, or in lieu of such coverage, a $10,000 bond…an approach that tracked the Commonwealth’s requirement for automobile insurance coverage.”

However, the bill that emerged out of the Democratic legislature contained a different mandate.

Gov. Romney's idea for RomneyCare was not only workable, but showed incredible insight in to the problems of the uninsured.

What he finally got bore no resemblance whatsoever to his original RomneyCare plan. Why has this story never seen the light of day, and why hasn't Mr. Romney used this in his bid for the presidency?