Guest commentary: George M. Perry ... Romneycare to the rescue

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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 This legislation should be repealed”?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 His email address is

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Comments » 1

ajm3s writes:

Need to update the folks, on the cost of RomneyCare:

"But the biggest thing that Romney's not talking about is in Massachusetts the federal government paid for about half of our plan. We didn't pay for it all on our own."


And then:

...the state's real spending driver is the exploding cost of RomneyCare. That law was supposed to save the state money." But last August Beacon Hill was forced to impose new price controls and a cap on overall state health spending because "health-care spending has crowded out key public investments," as Mr. Patrick puts it in his budget."

"Health care was 23% of the state fisc in 2000, and 25% in 2006, but it has climbed to 41% for 2013."


Yet, the folks in Massachusetts, as of May, 2013, love it:

"Most people in Massachusetts are in favor of what they get from Romneycare. Surveys over the past five years show an approval rating by state residents of around 60 percent, while 30 percent oppose it."


And then came the debut of Obamacare on October 1st, now on a national scale... and you know the rest of the story and it is still unfolding.

I would be careful to equate RomneyCare with Obamacare. As for myself, the best cure for cost containment and quality of service is competition and that is truly absent and has been absent for decades.

But if the people like it, then by all means let's raise taxes since we will bail out the insurance industry to meet the liabilities imposed by Obamacare if the healthy young participation rate is below government assumptions.

Don't fear, Obamacare allows insurance companies to recoup losses at the taxpayers expense regardless of whether you bought healthcare through the exchanges or not.

Perhaps, Aetna offers a glimpse of things to come.


Ironic, how the health insurance industry assumes no risk through guarantees by the federal government granted in Obamacare...yet Aetna may walk away; bear in mind the health insurance industry is in the business of assessing risk.

Will the healthy young adults walk away as well and simply show up at the emergency room with no insurance?

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