Former and future Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addressed a packed chapel at Emory University on Tuesday evening.
Introduced by Gov. Sonny Perdue, who was not on his train in ‘08, Romney was the portrait of a man working at a post-candidacy pace – in slacks and a sport shirt.
Officially, this was one stop in a book tour – Romney was in Iowa on Monday. And in a 40 minute speech, the former Massachusetts governor declined to address the largest question dangling over him.
Which is, given the similarities between the health care system that he designed for his state, and the national system that President Barack Obama has embarked on, how will that shape a ‘12 bid for the White House.
But the topic was raised at once in a question-and-answer session by a medical student. “There are a number of similarities,” conceded Romney, who continued at length:
“We passed in Massachusetts a health care bill that makes sure, that if you lose a job or change a job, you won’t lose your insurance. Everybody in Massachusetts is able to keep insurance throughout their life. It’s not taken away from them. So it’s portable.
“No. 2, you can’t be cancelled if you have a pre-existing condition or if you become ill once your insured. So everybody’s insured. Ninety-eight percent of the citizens in our state are insured. So in that respect, it’s very similar.
“And we also have an individual responsibility. We have an incentive – a mandate, if you will, to say we need everybody insured. The reason we did that was pretty simple. We had a lot of people showing up at the hospital without insurance – people who had the money or funds to buy insurance, who said, ‘I got no insurance. I’m real sick. Take care of me.’
“And the government was paying for those people. That’s what’s happening here, and in the other states in the country. There are people who — we call them free-riders — who say ‘I’m not going to be insured. I can’t pay my own way. If I have an accident or have a heart-attack, the government will pay for me.’ We say no more. You’ve got [the] responsibility, a personal responsibility, to get insured.
“But there are some aspects of the president’s plans I don’t like. One thing, I like states being able to do what we did – not the federal government. I’m a big believer of the federalist system….
“He’s raising taxes by half a trillion. We didn’t raise taxes to get our job done. No. 2, he’s cutting Medicare. We didn’t cut the benefits for senior citizens to get our job done.
“And No. 3, he’s putting in price controls. Markets don’t work if government starts setting prices. That just does not work. So for those reasons, among others, I’m an opponent of Obamacare.
“But [I] like what we’ve done pretty well, despite its weaknesses and flaws – and it has weaknesses and flaws. And those are worth studying. But what I don’t understand is, given the fact that some people think our system is a lot like what the president did, why didn’t he call me to ask for my advice? I would have given him some good advice.”
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