On ‘Romneycare’ Birthday, Video Traces Ties to ‘Obamacare’

Apr 12, 2012 6:00am

The Obama campaign is marking the six-year anniversary of Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care law with a new mini-documentary that traces its path from “model for the nation” to Republicans’ enemy number one.

The three-minute video features key figures who helped craft “Romneycare” and appeared in public with then-Gov. Romney as he heralded passage of the landmark law in 2006.

“Massachusetts Health Reform was going to be Mitt Romney’s central accomplishment that he would use on the national stage running for president,” says John McDonough of the Harvard School of Public Health who is identified as an “architect and advocate for both ‘Romneycare’ and ‘Obamacare’.”

Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist and advocate for the individual mandate who worked on Obama’s health care overhaul, accuses Romney years later of a politically-motivated shift:  “Here’s a guy who came up with this brilliant achievement, made it work in Massachusetts, then suddenly – because it was from the other party – it was a bad idea,” he says.

Archival footage of the law’s April 2006 signing ceremony inside Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall — where current Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick marked the milestone with a politically-charged event on Wednesday — shows Romney on an elevated stage with banners on both sides of the podium that read “Making History in Health Care.”

The film also shows clips of Romney defending the law in subsequent media interviews, including a CNN appearance when he said, “Massachusetts is a model for getting everybody insured.”

Romney’s oft-mentioned February 2007 quote that the law was a “model for the nation” is also flashed on screen before the film cuts away to a shot of Obama signing the Affordable Care Act.

Madelyn Rhemish, the first enrollee in the state’s Core Health Plan under “Romneycare” who’s seen speaking and standing beside Romney as he celebrated the law, offers a personal testimonial about how the state insurance option helped her retain health care coverage.

“How can you attack this?” she asks of Romney now.

With support for the Affordable Care Act at new lows, the Obama campaign is eager to remind voters that the individual mandate was originally a Republican idea and one that Romney enacted in his state. They also believe that documenting his apparent shift in positions on the health care law will further compound a popular perception that he is unprincipled.

Romney has defended the Massachusetts law as a “state solution to a state problem” and denied that he ever suggested a similar plan be implemented by the federal government. He has vowed to immediately work to repeal “Obamacare” if he wins the White House in November.

“President Obama was wrong to impose a one-size-fits-all plan for the nation on healthcare,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email. ” Obamacare is bad policy and it’s bad law. What is important is that states should be free to pursue their own solutions, and we look forward to celebrating the day Obamacare is overturned and that power is returned to the states.”

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