Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney insisted on Sunday that the health care reform plan he implemented in Massachusetts had no similarity to the one President Obama is championing, in part because Romney's was state-based and Obama's is a national overhaul.
The logic was a bit tortured. Romney, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," defended the universal health care system he put into place as governor as the "ultimate conservative plan," the "ultimate pro-life effort" and one that is "working well." But the Massachusetts Republican seemed incredulous that Obama would think of doing similar reform on the federal level.
"This is a federalist nation. States should be able to solve their own problems," he said.
Romney refused to acknowledge that his plan was similar to Obama's. Though, as host Chris Wallace point out, on many key measures -- an individual and employer mandate, subsidies for those who would have trouble buying insurance, and minimum standards for coverage -- the two plans converged. The likely 2012 presidential candidate pointed out that the president's plan included cuts to Medicare and additional taxes. But both of those measures are designed, in part, to provide funds to keep per capita spending down -- something that the Massachusetts plan failed to do. Finally, Romney touted the fact that his plan included "no controls over insurance premiums, price controls," which provides some explanation for why premiums in the Bay State are the highest in the nation.
"It is the difference between a racehorse and a donkey if you will. They both have four legs," Romney said. "But one works pretty well and the other is not working and would not work at all."
The most curious Romney charge, in the end, was the attack on Obama for trying to do a national health care overhaul as opposed to letting state governments take the lead. The "big difference" the former governor said is "a state plan versus a federal plan."
Beyond the most obvious counterpoint -- that the president, who heads the federal not state government, was pushing a plan that resembled Romney's -- was the fact (pointed out by Wallace) that Massachusetts itself was heavily dependent on federal funding to implement Romney's reform.
"The federal dollars we received were federal dollars that we were entitled to through a program called DSH - the disproportionate shared program," Romney explained. "Federal funds had been applied to Massachusetts just like to the states for the care of the uninsured."
UPDATE: DNC Press Secretary points out that Romney, during his Fox News Sunday appearance, praised the idea of an individual mandate -- which the president has included in his approach and congressional Republicans have suggested are unconstitutional.
"We know that expanding the risk pool will lower costs, but it certainly speaks to the bipartisan nature of the President's plan that Governor Romney calls the idea of an individual mandate the "ultimate conservative plan," Sevugan emails.