PATRICIA MURPHYJOHN AVLONLLOYD GROVE
Romneycare and Obamacare Differ Only in Inconsequential Ways
by Josh Dzieza Mar 6, 2012 1:16 PM EST
Romney is struggling to distance himself from the health-care law he passed while governor of Massachusetts, and no wonder—the state and federal plans are virtually identical.
No other issue--not his wealth, his 15 percent tax rate, or “corporations are people, my friends”--has given Mitt Romney as much trouble as the health care law he passed while governor of Massachusetts. Each of Romney’s opponents has taken a shot at the law Tim Pawlenty dubbed Obamneycare, pointing out again and again that it was the inspiration for President Obama’s reform so loathed by the Republican base. At a town hall rally in Ohio Monday, a Romney supporter pleaded for the candidate to give her something to say to critics. "I understand that Romneycare was good for Massachusetts at the state level, whereas Obamacare is federally mandated," she said. But "I don't know what the fundamental differences between the two [are] and I really would like your assistance with being able to tell others."
The problem for Romney is that there are no fundamental differences between the two laws. Both programs create exchanges where private insurers compete. Both require individuals to purchase insurance. And both subsidize those who can’t afford it. It’s a relatively new way of extending coverage. Massachusetts was the first place it was adopted, and the Affordable Care Act was the second. The two laws are, in the words of Jonathan Gruber, who helped design both the Romney and Obama plans, “the same ****ing bill.”