Five years ago, Gov. Mitt Romney championed health care reform for Massachusetts
, promising universal coverage and lower costs. And like the president he wants to unseat, he got it half right. Well, sort of.
Earlier this week, the presumed Republican front-runner announced his presidential exploratory committee. But nowhere in his videotaped declaration does he mention the failed experiment still raging in his home state, where, sure, most of the residents enjoy coverage, but costs have jumped higher than anyone could have dreamed.
When Romney signed the bill into law, most expected it to cover about 215,000 at an estimated annual cost of $725,000. Now, most studies agree that reform slashed the uninsured rate
in the Bay State by 2 percent to 3 percent, give or take. But the annual expense has ballooned to $1.5 billion – to cover 2.5 percent of the state’s population. I’m no Warren Buffet, but that doesn’t sound like much of a deal. And I’ve heard horror stories from brokers there. The reality is much worse than my rhetoric.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Romney. I think he’s among the best the GOP has to offer, and probably the best chance they have to topple President Obama. I still argue that if the party had nominated him back in 2008, he would have won, Sarah Palin would still be toiling away in obscurity in Juneau (and probably still be governor) and we wouldn’t be mired in this mess of reform right now.
The two knocks against Romney right now are his religion and reform. I think he can get over the religion thing, but unless he owns up to his mistake in Massachusetts, I think the Democrats will be able to dog him with this the entire campaign. This is worse than Hillary’s Iraq vote and Obama’s debt ceiling vote. At the very least, it kills his credibility to attack the president’s own health reform plan, especially since it’s based on his.