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Five Differences Between RomneyCare and ObamaCare

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Lately, Mitt Romney seems to be attracting some attention from the right and left concerning the health care plan he signed into law while he was governor of Massachusetts. His colleagues on the right who are angling for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination are quick to draw the comparison between Romney’s plan and the health care plan that President Obama signed last year. Obama himself has even complimented, albeit with ulterior motive, Romney’s health care plan. But is RomneyCare really that similar to ObamaCare?

State vs. Federal

If we’re looking at glaring differences between RomneyCare and ObamaCare, let’s start with the most obvious: ObamaCare is a federal (i.e. nationwide) plan while RomneyCare was a state (just for Massachusetts) plan. This is the defense that the Romney camp has consistently given, and with good reason. There are many forms of state legislation that would not apply very well at the federal level. And since Massachusetts is typically a rather progressive state, a comprehensive health care solution makes sense for them. But in Alabama, this program would never fly because they are much more conservative. And as states, Massachusetts and Alabama each have the right to deal with health care however they see fit. For those who may not understand this distinction between state and federal, I would refer you to the United States Constitution, specifically the 10th amendment.

Bi-partisan vs. Partisan

One year ago, the U.S. Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ObamaCare). Not a single Republican congressman or senator voted for it. In fact, the opposition to the bill was bipartisan, while support for the bill was only found among the Democratic party. In 2006, when Mitt Romney signed the Massachusetts health care plan into law, it had passed the Massachusetts legislature with bipartisan support. Romney had even crafted his plan with assistance from the conservative Heritage Foundation. The state congress in Massachusetts, both Republicans and Democrats, passed RomneyCare. In this particular case, the difference between RomneyCare and ObamaCare could not be more clear.

Popular vs. Unpopular

As of March 2011, support for the repeal of ObamaCare is at 53%, while opposition to its repeal is at 42%. According to Rasmussen Reports, support for repeal has never gone below 52% and opposition has never reached higher than 44%. This may sound like the country is evenly divided on the topic of repealing Obama’s health care legislation, however, it’s worth noting that the majority of respondents has always supported repeal since polls have been taken. On the other hand, 84% of Massachusetts residents are satisfied with their health care system.

Little vs. Big

This difference is also very obvious. RomneyCare, as a bill, was less than 100 pages. ObamaCare, in bill form, was over 2000 pages. While both centered around an individual mandate to purchase insurance, it’s difficult to see how RomneyCare could have been nearly as complex as the 2000-page bill that ObamaCare became.

Partially-vetoed vs. Unvetoed

The likelihood of Obama vetoing any portion of his signature achievement in office seems quite small. But as governor of Massachusetts, Romney vetoed eight portions of RomneyCare, which were promptly overridden by the mostly Democratic state legislature. The case could be made that the less conservative portions of RomneyCare would have been eliminated if Romney had had his way in the matter. This is probably why he has recently said that there are things about RomneyCare that he would change. Furthermore, Romney has stated that if he were president, he would repeal ObamaCare.

I could go on and on about how RomneyCare didn’t raise taxes and how ObamaCare did. I could elaborate more on the stark contrasts between a federal plan and a state plan. But the important thing to take note of when comparing the two plans is that their differences far outweigh their similarities. Anyone who would say otherwise is clearly taking aim at a perceived political weakness in Romney, rather than laying out the facts.

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About Braden

  • That’s OK, Glenn, we all make mistakes – as the hedgehog said climbing off the toilet brush.

    I’m no fan of Romney, but there’s no hypocrisy in that particular manifesto item.

  • Thanks, Doc (and Glenn).

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc (and Braden) –

    ‘scuse me while I go flush my head down a toilet. My comment #1 and my defense thereof are wrong. Let me collect my wits for a few minutes so I can go find another windmill to go tilting at.

    And Doc – thanks.

  • Glenn, go back and read that para again. It’s talking about the Massachusetts plan, which Romney readily admitted contained a mandate, not his national proposal.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Doesn’t include a mandate…but still forces people to buy insurance and businesses to provide insurance. How, exactly, is not for all practical purposes a mandate?

    We never declared war in Korea, but we all know it was a war.

  • So…if he didn’t propose a mandate, but what he proposed still forced people to buy insurance and businesses to provide insurance or face penalties…then how, exactly, is that not a mandate?

    Glenn, to be fair, the way I read that quote is that the “forcing people to purchase insurance” bit refers to the Massachusetts plan, not the federal one.

    The article you quote is at pains to make the distinction that Romney’s national healthcare proposal does not include the mandate.

  • No, it’s easy for many to assume that federal government is essentially a bigger version of state government. When in reality, the constitution delineates what rights are left to the states and what rights are left to the federal.

  • Costello

    Yet didn’t take for granted people knew one was state and one was federal?

  • Glenn, it didn’t prove me wrong. It was almost irrelevant.

    Costello, I took for granted your understanding of the 10th amendment.

  • Costello

    Was hoping to read something of substance from the title but this was so disappointingly superficial. Federal big, state smaller. That’s quite some political insight. You also left off Romney was involved in Romneycare where Obama was involved with Obamacare.

    How about looking at the constitutional aspects? Why can a state can compel a person to get involved but the feds can’t?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    An article from four years ago that proves you wrong is STILL an article that proves you wrong.

  • Nonplussed, the state vs. federal argument actually has a lot to do with the policy, so does the big vs. small argument. MassCare was a much more simple. ObamaCare raised taxes, put a strain on small businesses, and expanded Medicare. MassCare did none of those things.

    Glenn, that’s really all you’ve got? An obscure article from 4 years ago?

  • Josh Archambault

    Thought you might be interested in a new report from the Pioneer Institute based in Massachusetts about the 2006 reform. Fixing the Massachusetts Health Exchange.

  • The differences between the two plans listed in the article are differences in process, popularity, etc. The author does not cite any differences in the actual policy and makes rather the opposite point than intended.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ah, so Romney would never, ever agree to a national mandate? “But one thing I would never do is usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover,” he said.

    Gee, that’s funny. Lookee here what I found from way back in September 2007 on insurancebudget.com:

    Reveled recently before the Florida Medical Association the healthcare reform plan reflects Romney’s need to appeal to conservatives if he wants the Republican for the White House. Unlike the health insurance reform he helped devise for the much more liberal state of Massachusetts, his current proposal for the nation calls for providing affordable health insurance though tax and federal incentives. The plan also calls for other changes that will create a free market in which consumers are encouraged to buy private health insurance.

    Romney’s most notable exception in his national health insurance plan, is the one that made his Massachusetts plan so ground breaking, and so disturbing to conservatives: the Mandate. Romney’s national health insurance plan does not call for such a mandate. On the stump Mr. Romney holds up the legislation he helped to conceive for Massachusetts. He uses that health insurance reform plan as an example of how creating a free market can work to help those without access to affordable medical coverage. However he almost never mentions the idea that it forces people to purchase insurance, and businesses to provide health insurance, or face penalties.

    Instead of the mandate for the country Romney proposes a federalized system in which the federal government will provide incentives and assistance for those who cannot afford medical coverage to obtain affordable healthcare insurance.

    So…if he didn’t propose a mandate, but what he proposed still forced people to buy insurance and businesses to provide insurance or face penalties…then how, exactly, is that not a mandate?

    I guess that just like Newt Gingrich on the airstrikes against Libya, Romney was for the national mandate before he was against it….