In Mitt Romney's Defense Of Health Plan, Echoes Of Obama

May 12, 2011

Poor Mitt Romney.

The former GOP governor of Massachusetts, now running for president, is trying desperately to simultaneously defend and disavow the landmark universal health law he signed in 2006. That's because it bears an uncanny – and not at all accidental – resemblance to the federal law that Congress passed in 2010. That's the one that most Republicans desperately want to repeal, largely because it includes a deeply unpopular "individual mandate;" a requirement for most people to either have health insurance or pay a penalty.

"A lot of pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say that this whole thing was a mistake; that it was a boneheaded idea, and I should just admit it ... and walk away from it," Romney told an audience Thursday at the University of Michigan, the state where he was born and where his father served as governor in the 1960s.

But no, said Romney, he won't do that. Instead, he launched into a defense of the Massachusetts law that made him sound very much like, well, President Obama.

"There's no government insurance here," Romney said. "We didn't create a government insurance program or government insurance policy. ... No, no, we gave people a premium support program where they could buy their own private insurance of their choice. And for the poor, we helped them with support."

Funny, that's exactly how the federal law will work, much to the dismay, of course, of liberals who very much wanted a "public option" as one available choice.

Romney also professed his disdain for the way Western Europe provides health coverage to its citizens. "There's not a lot I want to borrow from France and Switzerland," he said.

Funny, though. Massachusetts' law was based in large part on the Swiss model, which also requires individuals to purchase private insurance that covers a minimum set of benefits. How quickly we forget. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit