I predict if the White House had proclaimed a year ago, “We are going to roll out Romneycare,” we would not be enduring the painful birth of Obamacare today.
As we know, Romneycare has been a considerable success in Massachusetts. Mitt Romney served a term as the red governor of a rather blue state, during which he persuaded the Legislature to adopt a health insurance program devised by the Heritage Group, the pre-eminent right wing think tank. Although Romney moved on to bigger fish fries, his Democratic successor diligently completed the system installation.
After a brief initial struggle, Romneycare was adopted by the Massachusetts citizenry and eventually, 98 percent signed up, and they seem quite content with the system.
If, a year ago, the White House had announced they were rolling out Romneycare, would we have the nasty comments like “This legislation is a train wreck. Obamacare is the worst bill ever enacted. This legislation should be repealed”?
The quote is inexact but typical of virtually every right wing politician. Those insisting that the two “cares”are quite different are left with little real evidence. A thorough inquiry turned up many trivial claims (they define poverty differently) and one insistent pundit. He claimed that Obamacare supporters dream of an eventual morph into a single payer system (a la Medicare) while no Romneycare advocate would ever endorse such an outlandish idea. So much for differences.
The systems are identical in all key aspects and on all policy issues. But what works in Massachusetts, opponents claim, probably won’t work in the other 49 states. Exactly why? Can a computer system tell the difference between the needs of a Cape Cod chiropractor and a Boise butcher, when both have the same pre-existing problem?
One prominent politician (who may be having second thoughts) opined that Massachusetts has a sophisticated, highly educated populace — after all, they have all those famous colleges — and could cope with the health care system better than his constituents could. This Santorumesque viewpoint suggests that his citizens aren’t savvy enough to comprehend the Affordable Care Act health care concepts.
The proponents of the Affordable Care Act point out that when the system was being concocted in 2009, there was copious bleating from across the aisle that “they never listen to our ideas!” Not only did they consider Republican health care ideas but they actually absconded with the entire Romneycare (nee’ Heritagecare) concept and made it the heart of the ACA. One can’t listen much better than that.
After the 2012 election, the White House could have announced that the Massachusetts health care system was the basis of Obamacare and was truly a remarkable accomplishment. The news release might read, “It is only right to give credit where credit is due and to name our rollout ACA system Romneycare. Every state that has accepted the Federal Medicaid contribution will be a Romneycare conversion. We all owe a vote of appreciation to Gov. Romney and to the folks at Heritage who devised this remarkable approach.”
Could calling the ACA “Romneycare” serve any useful purpose today? It certainly might make the boo-birds a bit more circumspect in attacking the beleaguered system. It might even make the general public aware of the real issues and expose the hypocrisy that envelops the discourse and inflames the controversy.
Perry is a retired vice president of American Express Financial Advisors (now Ameriprise). Articles on electric cars and a complete analysis of Social Security and Medicare can be found at www.entitlementdilemma.com. His email address is George@entitlementdilemma.com.