July 9, 2012
Key Differences Between RomneyCare and ObamaCare
The following is a cross-post from MRC written by Ben Collins. It is somewhat of an excerpt from a much larger article called RomneyCare – The Truth about Massachusetts Health Care, which covers more topics than just the side-by-side comparison to ObamaCare. I am posting this here in hopes some will find it informative and a useful reference. ~Nate G.
It is often asserted that RomneyCare is the same thing as ObamaCare, but this is simply not true. It is important to note that Massachusetts, the state where Romneycare was founded, opposed Obamacare. In fact, Massachusetts opposed Obamacare so much that they elected Senator Scott Brown (R) in 2010 to be thedeciding vote against Obamacare after Senator Ted Kennedy’s death. Why would the state where Romneycare was founded be opposed to Obamacare if the two laws were really the same? The answer is, of course, that they are not the same. While there are similarities between the two laws, there are also key differences. Below is a table of differences between the Romney plan and the Obama plan.
|Overall Size and Scope
||-Whole bill was 70 pages
-Romney vetoed significant sections of the bill including the employer penalty for not providing health insurance
-Romney favored an “opt out” provision from the mandate
-Romney favored no mandated benefits for health care coverage, catastrophic only
-No federal gov. insurance option
-Intended as a market driven solution to healthcare
|-Whole bill was 2,074 pages
-Very broad regulation of the insurance industry including an employer penalty for not providing health insurance and no “opt out” provision
-Establishes a 15 member board of unelected bureaucrats with great control over health care benefits and risks rationing health care
-Leaves open the option of creating single-payer gov. insurance in the future
-Intended as a step toward gov. run insurance
||-No new taxes!
-Romney balanced the state’s budget first, then passed healthcare law
-No cuts to Medicare benefits
-Modest cost to state (only added 1% to state budget)
|-Increased taxes by $500 billion and taxes people who don’t buy insurance
-Despite massive federal gov. debt, Obama still passed Obamacare
-Cuts Medicare by $500 billion
-Overall costs unknown!
||-Very strong bipartisan support
-Strong special interest support
-Very popular among the public in Massachusetts
-Strong consensus of approval was built in the state to support the law
-Consensus was built to support an individual mandate
|-Absolutely no bipartisan support
-Very controversial and divided special interest groups
-Unpopular in nation overall
-No consensus was built to support a mandate
|Does Constitution Define it as a “Tax” or “Penalty/Fee”?
||-Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts ruled state mandates are “penalties” because states have different authority and powers than the fed. gov.
-Mass. constitution never considered this a tax
|-Supreme Court ruled that federal gov. only has the authority to enact this law by its ability “tax,” and does not meet the required standards to be considered a “penalty.”
-This tax breaks Obama’s promise that he would not raise taxes on the middle class
||-A state solution to a state problem
-Through collaboration and discussion, Massachusetts created a consensus among stake holders to support the new law
|-Federal gov. “one-size-fits-all” plan
-Doesn’t take into account that each state is unique in important ways such as:
1)Vastly different debt levels between states (some states can’t afford new spending on health care)
2)Some states have three times the percentage of uninsured citizens (Much greater costs will be imposed on states with a larger percentage of uninusured citizens)
3)Conservative states will reject implementation of federal gov. plan.
As the above table illustrates, the plan Romney proposed was a much more conservative, business friendly law than what the Democrats passed under President Obama.
The Boston Globe editorial board recently published an article defending RomneyCare on conservative grounds. The editorial board states “the role Romney played on the state level was skillful, creative, and business friendly. Romney was a governor sensitive to business concerns and worried about the state’s business climate.”
A crucial difference between RomneyCare and ObamaCare is that the two healthcare plans, while similar in some ways, present vast differences in the essential origins and motives that separate Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. One author summarized it this way:
We know what Romney’s goal was when he passed his health care plan. His goal was to involve the private sector of Massachusetts in insuring a small percentage of the Massachusetts’ residents [who didn't have health insurance and who were receiving free health care from the government.]In 2006 when RomneyCare was passed, most conservatives praised Romney’s plan. The Bush administration sent a letter praising the passage of the new law. An oftenoverlooked fact is that without the support of the Bush administration, Romney’s health care law never would have become a reality.
Obama’s goal prior to signing Obamacare into law was much, much bigger.
In 2003, he said, “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care plan.”
The fact is, Obamacare was originally going to be single payer. It was going to be European — as close to it as Congress would allow. But that was curbed. What they got, instead — what we got, instead — was the first step. Obamacare. The first step toward single-payer, universal healthcare coverage.
And that is the crucial difference. Romney never said, never touted, never promised that “we may not get [single-payer] immediately” or even a little later than immediately. Romneycare is not Obamacare because Obamacare is just getting started. One was an end in and of itself. The other is (still) a means to an end.
One of Romney’s main goals in passing healthcare legislation was to counter many much more liberal attempts within Massachusetts to take over the healthcare system. The Boston Globe newspaper discusses in detail one plan that Romney feared would become law if action was not taken. That plan was the imposition of a payroll tax of up to $1,700 per employee on all businesses that did not offer health insurance to their employees. It was a serious threat. The plan had been voted on in the year 2000 and the law barely failed by 3%. In 2006 the employer mandate coupled with a heavy payroll tax was to be voted on again.
In regard to ObamaCare, Romney firmly believes that each state should have the right to craft its own health care program. Health care has traditionally been a state issue, not a federal issue, and Romney wants to keep it that way. In his book, No Apology, Romney states:
“My own preference is to let each state fashion its own program to meet the distinct needs of its citizens. States could follow the Massachusetts model if they choose, or they could develop plans of their own. These plans, tested in the state ‘laboratories of democracy,’ could be evaluated, compared, improved upon, and adopted by others.”In keeping with the belief that states should be able to craft their own programs, Romney has said that on his first day as president, he would issue a waiver to all 50 states allowing them to opt out of ObamaCare. This waiver would allow states to postpone the implementation of ObamaCare while Romney works with congress to formally repeal the bill.
In conclusion, a recent article in The New Yorker magazine states that “Romney had accomplished a longstanding Democratic goal – universal health insurance – by combining three conservative policies.” In other words, Romney had beaten Democrats at their own goal of providing universal health insurance – but Romney’s novel approach accomplished this goal not with a government takeover, but with conservative principles. The success of Romney’s healthcare law led many Democrats to consider adopting a similar approach to achieving universal health insurance. However, the end result from the Democrats under President Obama was a plan with a much larger government, much greater spending, increased taxes, and less power to the states and individuals to determine their own health care goals