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Mitt Romney on Health Care

A look at the GOP nominee's record in Massachusetts and on the presidential campaign trail

The state health reforms overseen by Mitt Romney while he was governor of Massachusetts have received significant attention throughout this campaign season. But the health policy record of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee goes beyond this state law to include a range of hot-button issues –- from the future of the federal health law to plans to revamp Medicare and Medicaid costs as well as a range of market-based initiatives –- that will continue to draw attention as the November election approaches.

See also: President Obama on health care.

KHN has assembled this resource to show in detail how these positions are taking shape.

Mitt Romney - positions on health care during the presidential campaign

In many ways, President Obama's health reform legislation was modeled after the system Mitt Romney instituted as governor of Massachusetts. — Photo by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

On Massachusetts Health Reforms, Romney:

  • Was a key player in the effort to reform Massachusetts' health care system. Before his election as governor, he campaigned on a health overhaul plan that included the following elements: charging co-pays to higher-income Medicaid recipients to expand coverage, requiring employers of more than 10 employees to offer insurance or pay a penalty, extending favored prescription pricing in the state's drug plan for elderly and disabled residents and negotiating an increase in federal funding for Medicaid. In 2005, he proposed Commonwealth Care, which helped frame the negotiation for health care reforms that ultimately became state law.
  • After his term as governor ended, he cited the 2006 state health reform law as a point of pride, but has since distanced himself from it because it is often considered a prototype for the federal Affordable Care Act, an assertion he rejects. The Massachusetts law includes the creation of an online insurance exchange known as the Health Connector, as well as fines against businesses with more than 10 employees that don't offer health insurance plans and a mandate that all individuals not covered by public health insurance purchase health insurance.

“If somebody could afford insurance, they should either buy the insurance or pay their own way. ... We said: If you can afford insurance, then either have the insurance or get a health savings account. Pay your own way, but no more free ride. That was what the mandate did.” – Romney, GOP candidate debate, Jan. 30, 2008.

  • Defends Massachusetts' individual mandate because it was a state-level decision –- not a matter imposed by the federal government.

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With Medicare facing serious financial trouble, how will the program continue to care for the nation's elderly and disabled?

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