A Response to the Current Buzz Over Romney’s 2009 Op-ed on Health Care - A Liberal Buzzkill

Liberal websites like Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post have been buzzing recently about a 2009 op-ed written by Romney in USA Today. In the USA Today op-ed, Romney’s detractors allege that “Romney advocated a federal/nationwide mandate requiring citizens to buy health insurance.”

This claim has been brought up again and again by Romney’s opponents, and while we here at Mitt Romney Central are certainly grateful for the increased traffic these websites and bloggers have brought to our site, we certainly feel it necessary to set the record straight.

For those interested in reading the op-ed in question, be my guest, but before you do, you may want to read the op-ed Romney wrote for Newsweek magazine just two months prior where Romney explains much more clearly his proposals on health care.

In the Newsweek op-ed, Romney provides a much more detailed explanation about his health care plans as well as what he meant when he said “penalties” would help people purchase health insurance. The Newsweek op-ed, aptly entitled Health Care: The Answer is Unleashing Markets – Not Government, states:

The right answer for health care is to apply more market force, not less. Here’s how:

1. Get everyone insured. Help low-income households retain or purchase private insurance with a tax credit, voucher or coinsurance. Use the tens of billions we now give hospitals for free care to instead help people buy and keep their own private insurance. For the uninsured who can afford insurance but expect to be given free care at the hospital, require them to either pay for their own care or buy insurance; if they do neither, they would forgo the tax credit or lose a deduction. No more “free riders.”

Notice that Romney states quite directly what he means by “using penalties to encourage people to buy health insurance.” What Romney is saying is that those who don’t purchase health insurance lose the opportunity to gain a “tax credit” or “deduction.” In much the same way, homeowners get a tax deduction for the interest paid on their house payments, or how students can get a tax credit on certain student loans. Romney is not advocating a “mandate” of the type Obama used where people are fined for not purchasing insurance, and Romney is certainly not advocating a FEDERAL mandate of any kind if you read the next paragraph of the Newsweek op-ed which states:

6. Center reforms at the state level. Open the door to state plans designed to meet the various needs of their citizens. Before imposing a one-size-fits-all federal program, let the states serve as “the laboratories of democracy.”

How much clearer can Romney be? This op-ed, written just two months before the op-ed in question, shows that Romney wanted health care reform to be at the state level, and for states to enact tax deductions or credits as incentives for people to purchase health insurance. (Just for the record, this is exactly the same plan Ronald Reagan was looking into).

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