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.