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.