Fox Business host Lou Dobbs covered up the fact that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney previously supported the same kind of financial penalties on individuals who refuse to purchase health insurance that are in the Affordable Care Act, penalties Romney now criticizes. In fact, even the architect of Romney's health care law says the law Romney championed as governor of Massachusetts is very similar.
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Dobbs Denies Similarities Between MA Health Care Reform And National Health Care Reform
Dobbs: Claim That The Mandate In Romney's Healthcare Bill Is Similar To The ACA's Is "Not The Truth." During the June 28 edition of Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs dismissed the assertion that Romney's health care bill is comparable to national health care reform, and that the minimum coverage requirements include "the exact same penalties." From the show:
CHRISTOPHER HAHN: (Fox News contributor): What is bizarre is that Republicans think that Republican conservatives --
HAHN: -- are going to rally around a guy who passed this exact same bill, with these exact same penalties when he was governor of Massachusetts.
RON CHRISTIE (govote.com national Republican editor): No --
HAHN: He is the father of Obamacare.
CHRISTIE: That's absolutely false.
MONICA CROWLEY (Fox News contributor): You're missing the point Chris.
DOBBS: I mean, Is that really the new talking points?
HAHN: It's true. It's the truth, Lou.
DOBBS: Well no it's not the truth, Chris. I mean it's a lot of things, but it's not the truth.
HAHN: You know I think the Republicans should listen to the Bible: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." Mitt Romney is the father of Obamacare. They are going to have a hard time rallying around it. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 6/28/12]
In Fact, The Coverage Requirements, And Bills Themselves, Are Very Similar
Massachusetts Health Care Law Architect: "Individual Mandate 'Very Similar' In Obama, Romney Bills." In a June 29 Huffington Post article, Sam Stein quoted Massachusetts health care law key architect and MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who noted that the mandate provisions in the Affordable Care Act and the health care law signed by Romney "are very similar" and "have the same basic structure." From the Huffington Post:
One of the few individuals who worked on health care reform under both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama said on Friday that the controversial individual mandate provision was virtually identical in the bills signed into law by each of them.
"They are very similar," said Jonathan Gruber, a Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an interview with The Huffington Post. "They aren't the same exact mandate, but they have the same basic structure." [Huffington Post, 6/29/12]
PolitiFact: Massachusetts' Health Care Plan, Including Penalties, Is Similar To National Health Care Reform. In a post titled, "RomneyCare & ObamaCare: Can you tell the Difference?" PolitiFact noted, "there are an awful lot of similarities" between the two laws. The post cited two 2010 articles, in which they found claims that the plans were identical to be "mostly true." From the article:
Mitt Romney has gone to great lengths to distance his Massachusetts health plan from the federal law, even giving a PowerPoint presentation to emphasize the differences. But the truth is that there are an awful lot of similarities between the plan he signed in Massachusetts in 2006, often called "RomneyCare," and the one that President Barack Obama signed in 2010, dubbed "ObamaCare."
Both leave in place the major insurance systems: employer-provided insurance, Medicare for seniors and Medicaid for the poor. They seek to reduce the number of uninsured by expanding Medicaid and by offering tax breaks to help moderate income people buy insurance. People are required to buy insurance or pay a penalty, a mechanism called the "individual mandate." And companies that don't offer insurance have to pay fines, with exceptions for small business and a few other cases. [PolitiFact, 3/20/12, emphasis added]
PolitiFact: Pawlenty's Claim That National Health Care Reform Is Patterned After Massachusetts' Plan Is "True." In an August 11, 2011, post, PolitiFact found that former GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty's assertion that "Obamacare was patterned after" Romney's plan in Massachusetts was "true." From the post:
We'll review the two plans' similarities again here.
• Individual mandate to buy health insurance. Everyone in Massachusetts must purchase health insurance or else pay a penalty; the same goes for the federal plan, though the penalty structures vary between the two.
He's correct that the plans, thought [sic] not completely identical, are very similar in structure. They both require everyone to have health insurance or pay a penalty; they both leave the current insurance system in place; they both expand coverage for the uninsured through subsidies or Medicaid. [PolitiFact, 8/12/11]
Daily Beast: "Romneycare and Obamacare Differ Only In Inconsequential Ways" A March 6 Daily Beast article claimed that in order to find a difference between the two healthcare plans, "you must look to the margins." The article further noted that "[t]he only difference between Romney's mandate and Obama's is that Romney's plan levies a harsher penalty." From The Daily Beast:
The Individual Mandate
This is the part of the Affordable Care Act that really enrages Republicans, whose challenge to it is awaiting judgment by the Supreme Court. It's an essential part of both plans. The only difference between Romney's mandate and Obama's is that Romney's plan levies a harsher penalty on people who don't buy insurance: $1,200 versus Obama's $695.
It's not something Romney can easily distance himself from. Last week Buzzfeed uncovered a 2009 op-ed by Romney in which he urges Obama to follow Massachusett's lead and adopt the mandate. "Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages 'free riders' to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others," he wrote. [The Daily Beast, 3/6/12]
And White House Officials Worked With Crafters Of MA's Health Care Plan On National Health Care Plan
MSNBC: "White House Used Mitt Romney Health-Care Law As Blueprint For Federal Law." In an October 11, 2011, MSNBC article, NBC national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff discussed how "senior Obama administration officials used Mitt Romney's landmark health-care law in Massachusetts as a model for the new federal law." From the article:
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. [MSNBC.com, 10/11/11]
Romney Advised Obama To Model Health Care Reform After His Own Bill
BuzzFeed: "Mitt Romney Was Once Touting His Plan To Obama As A Model For Health Care Reform." A March 2 BuzzFeed post found a July 2009 op-ed authored by Mitt Romney in which Romney asserted that "the lessons we learned in Massachusetts could help Washington" craft national health care reform legislation that included "tax penalties" to compel people to buy health insurance. From BuzzFeed's archived version of Romney's op-ed:
Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn't have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages "free riders" to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn't cost the government a single dollar. Second, we helped pay for our new program by ending an old one -- something government should do more often. The federal government sends an estimated $42 billion to hospitals that care for the poor: Use those funds instead to help the poor buy private insurance, as we did. [BuzzFeed Politics, 3/2/12, emphasis in original]