We all know that the Heritage Foundation, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch and a whole slew of other Republicans and conservatives over the past 20 years have backed healthcare reform with an individual mandate as its centerpiece. By now, almost every American voter also knows that Mitt Romney signed Obamacare-light into law as governor of Massachusetts. What's not discussed nearly as often, however, is that Romney also advocated for the adoption of Obamacare early on in the Obama presidency.
Back in 2009, the liberal Democrats in Congress were pushing for a single payer system, or, short of that, a public option-- which would allow individuals to be covered until a plan run by the federal government. Fearing that one of these plans would inevitably be backed by the President, Romney took what he probably believed was the reasonable route and advocated for the passage of Obamacare in a USA Today Op-Ed. He claimed that if Obama took his advice, he would help the country get the healthcare reform it deserved ande would earn the support of Republicans.
So here it is-- Romney's blueprint of Obamacare, before it earned that name: no "public option;" tax penalties for those with no coverage; public money to help people get coverage; a plan that won't burden the nation with greater debt.
Massachusetts also proved that you don't need government insurance. Our citizens purchase private, free-market medical insurance. There is no "public option." With more than 1,300 health insurance companies, a federal government insurance company isn't necessary. It would inevitably lead to massive taxpayer subsidies, to lobbyist-inspired coverage mandates and to the liberals' dream: a European-style single-payer system. To find common ground with skeptical Republicans and conservative Democrats, the president will have to jettison left-wing ideology for practicality and dump the public option.
Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn't have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages "free riders" to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn't cost the government a single dollar. Second, we helped pay for our new program by ending an old one — something government should do more often. The federal government sends an estimated $42 billion to hospitals that care for the poor: Use those funds instead to help the poor buy private insurance, as we did.
...Republicans are not the party of "no" when it comes to health care reform. This Republican is proud to be the first governor to insure all his state's citizens. Other Republicans such as Rep. Paul Ryan and Sens. Bob Bennett and John McCain, among others, have proposed their own plans. Republicans will join with the Democrats if the president abandons his government insurance plan, if he endeavors to craft a plan that does not burden the nation with greater debt, if he broadens his scope to reduce health costs for all Americans, and if he is willing to devote the rigorous effort, requisite time and bipartisan process that health care reform deserves.
And if you are looking for more, here's Morning Joe making fun of Mitt's op-ed a few months ago: