Scott Brown, the Republican whose quest to win Ted Kennedy‘s seat has jolted Democrats with the possibility of losing the 60-seat majority needed to pass a health-care bill, defended on Wednesday his own vote as a state senator for mandatory health insurance in 2006.
“They’re two different programs,” said Brown, during an appearance on Fox News.
“What we have here is a free-market enterprise where we’re providing insurance on various levels to people in Massachusetts,” Brown said. “The plans in Washington are a one-size-fits-all plan that’s going to cost almost $1 trillion-plus and raise taxes at a time when we don’t need it.”
Brown’s response is key for Romney, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and is considered a front-runner for the nomination in 2012.
The health-care plan that Romney signed in 2006 is already facing huge cost overruns, causing many to question whether the issue might become a liability to the former governor when he and other Republicans are attacking the Obama administration for its health-care plan and what they say will be its effect on the nation’s federal budget.
Brown himself is crusading on the fact that if he wins and is seated before congressional Democrats reach a compromise on two health-care bills passed by the House and the Senate, his vote will be able to stop it from passing.
He voted for the Massachusetts health-care plan, and faced questions on Fox from Neil Cavuto about whether he “contributed to something that now you’re against?”
But the line from Romney advisers who talked to The Daily Caller Wednesday, and Brown himself, is that Romney-care has worked in covering the uninsured but that cost containment has not happened because Gov. Deval Patrick eliminated a cost and quality commission that would have brought transparency to what health-care providers were charging and eliminated price gouging.
Romney adviser Ron Kaufman, a Washington lobbyist who has been working with the Brown campaign in an unofficial advisory role, said that the people of Massachusetts are “satisfied with what they got” but that they are angry about the federal bill being debated because it would force the state to pay for something they already have: nearly universal coverage.
“They already paid for it,” Kaufman said.
Brown said much the same thing during his interview on Fox.
“Why would we subsidize and why would we pay more for something we already have. It makes no sense,” he said.
Ed Haislmaier, a health care policy expert at the Heritage Foundation, backed up the Brown and Romney camps’ analysis.
“When you ask the average person in Massachusetts who isn’t getting subsidized coverage, ‘Did health reform do anything to help you?’ they’re going to say no, because the piece that was designed to do that got killed off,” said Haislmaier.
“People who aren’t following [the Massachusetts plan] closely pick it up and say it’s not working. Well that’s not true.”