In articles on Sen. Hillary Clinton's health care proposal, several media outlets reported Mitt Romney's attack on the plan without mentioning that, as governor of Massachusetts, he signed into law a health care bill that requires every state resident to obtain health insurance -- one of the central tenets of Clinton's plan.
In September 18 articles, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post all quoted Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney attacking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) health care proposal without noting that, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed into law a health care bill that requires every state resident to obtain health insurance -- one of the central tenets of Clinton's plan.
In a September 18 article noting Romney's criticisms of Clinton's proposal, The Boston Globe asserted that "the central premise of Clinton's plan -- an 'individual mandate' requiring that every American have health insurance -- is precisely what Romney proposed in the Bay State, in what was seen as a bold approach to attaining universal coverage." It also noted that one of the "few differences between Clinton's plan and the law Romney signed" is that Clinton's plan "does not open any new government agency, according to the campaign, unlike the Massachusetts law, which created the Health Connector to help uninsured people obtain insurance."
From the Globe article:
Key elements of Hillary Clinton's healthcare proposal are strikingly similar to the tenets of the health overhaul that Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts last year. But you would never guess it from the broadsides he hurled yesterday against what he called "Hillarycare 2.0" and described as "a European-style socialized medicine plan."
"In her plan, we have government insurance instead of private insurance," he said at a press conference in New York, held before Clinton had even unveiled her proposal. "In her plan, it's crafted by Washington; it should be crafted by the states. In her plan, we have government Washington-managed healthcare. Instead, we should rely on private markets to guide healthcare. And in her plan, you see increased taxes. The burden should not be raised on the American people."
But the central premise of Clinton's plan -- an "individual mandate" requiring that every American have health insurance -- is precisely what Romney proposed in the Bay State, in what was seen as a bold approach to attaining universal coverage. The idea became a pillar of the law, which he signed in April 2006.
Clinton's plan and the Massachusetts law also share a guiding principle: Build on the existing employer-based private healthcare system, instead of replacing it with a government-run system.
"What Hillary proposed is in many ways the Massachusetts plan gone national, and I think that's great," said MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber, an early adviser to Romney on the healthcare reform law who has consulted with all the major Democratic presidential candidates. "We are the shot fired around the world again - there's a whole new movement in healthcare started by what we did here. And rather than claiming credit for it, Romney's running away from it."
While the law is Romney's signature achievement as governor, on the campaign trail he has soft-pedaled or avoided mentioning elements of the law that might trouble conservative audiences, such as the extent of state government's involvement.
There are a few differences between Clinton's plan and the law Romney signed. Even though Romney said Clinton's plan is inspired by "European bureaucracies," it does not open any new government agency, according to the campaign, unlike the Massachusetts law, which created the Health Connector to help uninsured people obtain insurance. Massachusetts also does not provide subsidies to small employers to help them provide insurance, as Clinton's plan would.
As Media Matters for America documented, the Associated Press noted in a September 17 article that Romney's attacks on Clinton's proposal contrasted with a central tenet of the bill he signed as governor:
Republicans have already readied attacks on the Clinton plan. The Republican National Committee sent an e-mail to reporters Monday dubbing it "Hillarycare'' and questioning why she waited months to release a plan.
On Saturday, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney warned it would smack of "socialized medicine'' and said Americans didn't want the government to be in charge of health care.
But as Massachusetts governor, Romney signed into law a health care plan requiring every state resident to purchase health insurance.
However, in a September 18 article, the Los Angeles Times noted Romney's charges against Clinton without mentioning the bill he signed into law:
Romney called a news conference outside a Greenwich Village hospital Monday to denounce Clinton's healthcare plan just before she released it in Iowa.
Mocking her leadership of the Clinton administration's failed 1993 attempt to overhaul the healthcare system, Romney said: "HillaryCare continues to be bad medicine."
"Fundamentally, I think she takes her inspiration from European bureaucracies," he said.
On September 18, USA Today similarly included Romney's attacks on Clinton's plan, but omitted any mention of Romney's plan in Massachusetts:
Republicans criticized Clinton's plan as heavy-handed. Rudy Giuliani's campaign called it the "Clinton-Moore plan" after filmmaker Michael Moore, whose film Sicko lambastes the U.S. health care system and lauds government-run programs in other countries. Mitt Romney called it "a European-style socialized medicine plan."
A September 18 Washington Post article also quoted Romney, but it made no mention of the bill he signed as governor. Though the article noted that Massachusetts was "mandating universal care," it did not report that the mandate was a result of Romney's plan:
Now, with states such as Massachusetts mandating universal care and even Republicans such as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pushing similar initiatives, Clinton's proposal is not as politically daunting as it might have been even four years ago. The labor unions being courted by the candidates have essentially demanded that candidates offer universal coverage, and the plans Edwards and Obama have offered are so expansive that there was little short-term risk to Clinton in offering an ambitious scheme.
At a news conference, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said " 'Hillarycare' continues to be bad medicine."