White House used Mitt Romney’s Romneycare as a blueprint for Obamacare

MSNBC reports that Obamacare was designed using Romney’s health care plan as a blueprint.


Newly obtained White House records provide fresh details on how senior Obama administration officials used Mitt Romney’s landmark health-care law in Massachusetts as a model for the new federal law, including recruiting some of Romney’s own health care advisers and experts to help craft the act now derided by Republicans as “Obamacare.”

The records, gleaned from White House visitor logs reviewed by NBC News, show that senior White House officials had a dozen meetings in 2009 with three health-care advisers and experts who helped shape the health care reform law signed by Romney in 2006, when the Republican presidential candidate was governor of Massachusetts. One of those meetings, on July 20, 2009, was in the Oval Office and presided over by President Barack Obama, the records show.

“The White House wanted to lean a lot on what we’d done in Massachusetts,” said Jon Gruber, an MIT economist who advised the Romney administration on health care and who attended five meetings at the Obama White House in 2009, including the meeting with the president. “They really wanted to know how we can take that same approach we used in Massachusetts and turn that into a national model.”

[…]The White House visitor logs suggest that, if Obama officials didn’t talk directly with Romney, senior presidential aides did consult with others — like Gruber — who played important roles in helping to craft and implement the Massachusetts law.

In addition to Obama himself, the meetings attended by Gruber were presided over by the president’s chief economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, then budget director Peter Orzag and Nancy-Ann DeParle, the president’s chief adviser on health care, the records show. Gruber was also given a $380,000 contract by the Obama administration in 2009 to work with Congress on drafting a new federal law based on the Massachusetts law, records show.

Another Romney administration adviser consulted by the White House was Jon Kingsdale, a health-care expert who was appointed in 2006 by one of Romney’s Cabinet secretaries, Thomas Trimarco, to serve as executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority — the state agency charged with implementing the new Massachusetts health-care law.

Let’s have a quick re-cap of Romneycare, shall we?

The libertarian Cato Institute think tank explains why Obamacare and Romneycare are identical in many ways.


As part of his liberal phase when governor of Massachusetts — political principles have been ever-flexible for Romney — he orchestrated passage of legislation with eerie similarities to ObamaCare. Massachusetts mandates purchase of insurance, decides what benefits must be offered, and maintains a complex system of subsidies and penalties. Declared Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker, the two programs are “not identical, but they’re certainly close kin.” MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who advised both Gov. Romney and President Obama on health care, asserted: “Basically, it’s the same thing.”[…]Alas, even the former governor’s constitutional scruples are suspect. In 1994 he backed a federal mandate. His concern about the overweening federal government apparently was not so finely developed then.

[…]However, paying for more benefits for more people inevitably makes medicine more expensive. Costs for Commonwealth Care, the Massachusetts government’s subsidized insurance program alone are up a fifth over initial projections. Last year State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill wrote: “The universal insurance coverage we adopted in 2006 was projected to cost taxpayers $88 million a year. However, since this program was adopted in 2006, our health-care costs have in total exceeded $4 billion. The cost of Massachusetts’ plan has blown a hole in the Commonwealth’s budget.”

[…]State finances have not collapsed only because RomneyCare spread the costs widely, forcing virtually everyone in and out of the state to share the pain. Cahill cited federal subsidies as keeping the state afloat financially. Indeed, a June study from the Beacon Hill Institute concluded that “The state has been able to shift the majority of the costs to the federal government.” The Institute pointed to higher costs of $8.6 billion since the law was implemented. Just $414 million was paid by Massachusetts. Medicaid (federal payments) covered $2.4 billion. Medicare took care of $1.4 billion.

But even more costs, $4.3 billion, have been imposed on the private sector — employers, insurers, and residents. This estimate is in line with an earlier study by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, which figured that 60% of the new costs fell on individuals and businesses.

As expenses have risen, so have premiums. Noted Kuttner, “because serious cost containment was not part of the original package, premium costs in the commonwealth have risen far faster than nationally — by 10.3%, the most recent year available.” Economists John F. Cogan, Glenn Hubbard, and Daniel Kessler figured that RomneyCare inflated premiums by 6% from 2006 to 2008. This at a time where the state-subsidized Commonwealth Care was displacing private insurance for many people, thereby reducing demand, which should have reduced cost pressures.

Unfortunately, noted the Beacon Hill Institute, “private companies have no choice but to pass the higher costs onto the insured. Some of these costs fall in the double-digit range.” That naturally displeased public officials, since it undercut their claim to have solved Massachusetts’ health care problems.

And the Boston Herald notes that Romneycare caused the loss of 18,000 jobs. (H/T Michelle Malkin)


The Bay State’s controversial 2006 universal health-care plan — also known as “Romneycare” — has cost Massachusetts more than 18,000 jobs, according to an exclusive blockbuster study that could provide ammo to GOP rivals of former Gov. Mitt Romney as he touts his job-creating chops on the campaign trail.

“Mandating health insurance coverage and expanding the demand for health services without increasing supply drove up costs. Economics 101 tells us that,” said Paul Bachman, research director at Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute, the conservative think tank that conducted the study. The Herald obtained an exclusive copy of the findings.

“The ‘shared sacrifice’ needed to provide universal health care includes a net loss of jobs, which is attributable to the higher costs that the measure imposed,” said David Tuerck, the institute’s executive director.

…Despite Romney’s vaunted business acumen as a successful venture capitalist, Bachman said the former governor “was a little naive about what would become of the law.”

The Beacon Hill Institute study found that, on average, Romneycare:

  • cost the Bay State 18,313 jobs;
  • drove up total health insurance costs in Massachusetts by $4.311 billion;
  • slowed the growth of disposable income per person by $376; and
  • reduced investment in Massachusetts by $25.06 million.

And from the Heartland Institute, an article showing how Romneycare could actually lead to single-payer health care in Masachusetts.


The 2006 reform jeopardized the solvency of private health plans in the Bay State. Unfortunately, insurers’ solvency is not something patients, physicians, and voters have reason to observe closely, so the political class suffers from perverse incentives once it starts micromanaging health insurance. As a result, higher costs have been passed on through higher per capita spending and premium growth.

According to the state’s 2010 annual report, today “per capita spending on health care in Massachusetts is 15 percent higher than the rest of the nation, even when accounting for wages and spending on medical research and education in Massachusetts.” Indeed, Professor John F. Cogan of Stanford University has concluded the 2006 reform led to premium growth 6 percent higher in Massachusetts than in the rest of the United States between 2006 and 2008.

Because it was politically intolerable to allow premiums to rise in line with the costs of Romneycare, the state’s insurance commissioner denied 235 of 276 rate increase requests in April 2010. For a short time, no new policies were offered, and plans suffered significant losses. The next month, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest carrier, announced a $55 million provision for anticipated losses in the second quarter alone.

Of the 12 largest carriers, five were already operating at a loss. At this point, even if the state allows Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to increase rates in line with medical costs, my analysis concludes the carrier will become insolvent in the vicinity of 2017. Other carriers will soon follow.

Clever campaign speeches and witty debate zingers today don’t cancel out a liberal leftist record on policy yesterday.

One thought on “White House used Mitt Romney’s Romneycare as a blueprint for Obamacare”

  1. This whole business is theologically labeled the Third-Way. Christians, or Mormons (in deference to Wintery Knight’s post on the subject of Mormons), who want to implement a way between capitalism and socialism are trying to implement a Third Way solution.

    Norman Podhoretz, whose father was a communist says in his book, “Why are Jews Liberals?”:
    “An important issue was and is at stake here, that reaches to the very heart of the relationship between ideas and practical politics. In the world of ideas it is possible to keep one’s political skirts clean. One can favour this and oppose that, even when in the real world the “that” follows inexorably from the “this,” or one can support an end while refusing to back the only available means for getting to it. This is why intellectuals are so often drawn to the Third Way. That is some currently non existent or Utopian future alternative to the choices that are actually on offer in the here and now.”

    Or if you prefer Jay Richards’ take on it, from “Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem”:
    “The vicissitudes of history have not yet dissuaded leftist intellectuals from their earnest search for a Third Way between socialism and capitalism, namely socialism.”

    As Christians we need to recognize these attempts for what they are and call a spade a spade. Obamacare and Romney Care are not social programs, they are socialist programs, and there is a difference.


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