On Broadway near Wall Street on a warm fall evening in New York City, a middle-aged couple--expensive-looking, smartly dressed--laments the GOP’s loss last year in the U.S. Presidential election: “If only [Romney] had been able to tell the truth.”
Like many Republicans beneath the big party tent, the passersby believe former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney might have unseated President Barack Obama had he remained true to his record presiding over the 1996 inception of a state-based healthcare scheme on which Democrats say they modelled the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.
However, Romney on Sunday rejected exactly that comparison as an untruth in an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press following Obama's castigations last week of GOP opposition to Obamacare as motivated by pure politics rather than good policy.
“The president failed to learn the lessons that came from the experience in Massachusetts," Romney said, maintaining his support for a state-by-state approach to healthcare.
“Perhaps the most important lesson the president, I think, failed to learn was, you have to tell the American people the truth,” Romney said. “And when he told the American people that you could keep your health insurance if you wanted to keep that plan, period, he said that time and again, he wasn't telling the truth. And I think that fundamental dishonesty has really put in peril the whole foundation of his second term.”
Like Republican leaders in Washington, Romney predicts Obama would spend the balance of his time in office defending a precarious stance on healthcare, particularly as the administration stumbles in implementing one of two major provisions of the new law: the opening of a federally operated online healthcare exchange, beset with technological problems for the past month.
Following a Capitol Hill hearing last week on the administration’s website problems with the healthcare.gov insurance exchange, Romney and fellow Republicans assert that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance under the new law, breaking promises to voters.
“There is no question in my mind but had the president been truthful and told the American people that millions would lose their insurance and millions more would see their premiums skyrocket, had he told them that at the time it was going through Washington, there would have been such a huge cry against it, it would not have passed," Romney said, referring to what NBC's David Gregory called a "small percentage of the market--about five percent."
In response, Democrats point to the policy success of healthcare reform enacted in Massachusetts in 1996, known initially as “Romneycare.” Similar to Obamacare, the state required all uninsured residents to purchase health insurance policies either independently or through a state-based exchange known as the the “Health Connector,” or lose the $219 personal exemption on their state income taxes.
Romney maintains that what works for Massachusetts may not work for, say, Mississippi. One lesson from Massachusetts, Romeny said, "is that health insurance is more expensive there than anywhere in the country."