Romney to amputate the Mass-care monkey

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

Move over Daniels, step aside Trump, Mitt is back and he’s grabbing the headlines with an agenda to get the health-care monkey off his back in time to win the crucial New Hampshire and Florida primaries.

He announced today that he’ll showcase his plan “to repeal and replace Obamacare” next Thursday at the University of Michigan’s Cardiovascular Center.

Obamacare is hated by GOP primary-voters, and so is Mass-Care, the somewhat-similar Massachusetts healthcare plan that was pushed into law by then-Governor Romney. White House officials and rival GOP candidates have gleefully tagged Romney and his Mass-Care plan as one of Obamacare’s political-parents.

Romney can’t simply disavow his Mass-Care health-for-all plan, partly because his rivals and the hovering media are eager to revive charges that he is a flip-flopper. So Romney has tried to back away from Mass-Care, saying it was distorted by the state legislature, and also implemented badly. State residents are increasingly skeptical towards the law, but they’re not clear about what could replace it. GOP activists aren’t satisfied with this weak-tea criticism, either.

In his pending speech, Romney will describe a plan to “restore to the states the responsibility and resources to care for their poor, uninsured, and chronically ill.” The federal government will fund “a tax deduction to those who buy their own health insurance, just like those who buy it through their employers… streamline the federal regulation of healthcare [and] reduce the influence of lawsuits on medical practice and costs,” according to the statement.

Overall, according to Romney’s press statement, his plan will “make healthcare more like a consumer market and less like a government program.” That’s a close match for Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare-reform plan, which offers a high-stakes plan to supplant Medicare’s entitlement with inflation-linked vouchers. The Ryan plan could shrink the deficit and put Medicare on a firmer financial foundation, but the Democratic officials are slamming it as a threat to seniors in the hope of generating an election-day backlash.

The speech may also overshadow his opponents for a few days who have used a South Carolina debate and will-I-won’t-I press events to jostle for money, media-coverage and local support. But if Romney can use his orchestrated event to wrench the Mass-care monkey from his back, he’ll be in a much better position to compete with his rivals in the accelerating race towards the critical Florida and New Hampshire primaries.