The universal health care that Mitt Romney passed as Massachusetts governor has proven to be a popular target for his critics. But it could be Romney’s good luck that his two main establishment rivals for the GOP nomination are less than ideally positioned to capitalize on this liability.
When they set out to reform health care in their states, both Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah, and Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota, considered the same tools that Romney adopted, including a mandate that people obtain health insurance and a state “exchange” where they could buy it. Both men ended up settling for reforms far more limited than Romney’s. But their records have left them open to charges of hypocrisy when they blast the Massachusetts and national health-care laws.
Though Pawlenty shrank from attacking Romney over health care at a recent candidates’ debate, he has continued to savage the Massachusetts law during campaign appearances, noting that it served as the model for the national law signed by President Obama.
“One of the major issues in the race is going to be Obamacare, and I don’t see how you can prosecute that charge effectively if you were co-conspirator in a charge,” Pawlenty told a TV interviewer in a typical line.
Huntsman is more measured in his criticism, saying Romney has “little credibility” on health care.
For his part, Romney could argue that his efforts left many more constituents with insurance. In Massachusetts, all but 2 percent of residents now have health coverage. In Utah, the figure is 14 percent, while in Minnesota, it has risen from 6 percent in 2000 to 9 percent.
People in both parties in Utah and Minnesota say they are surprised to see the candidates going after Romney’s record on the issue. The fact is, they say, all three were considering, to varying degrees, many of the same health-care reforms — ideas that were considered open for discussion in Republican circles before they became identified with the new national law.
Read more at The Washington Post.