Report: Romney, aides defended state individual mandate in emails

Melissa Quinn Contributor
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E-mails obtained by the Wall Street Journal show how former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and his aides defended an individual health care mandate and considered publicly shaming companies that didn’t provide enough health insurance to employees.

The Wall Street Journal published a story Tuesday based on copies of the emails Romney exchanged with top aides and state leaders. The emails show that Romney worked closely with Democratic state politicians and was engaged in negotiating details of the individual mandate. Romney also drafted several opinion articles in support of the mandate.

After Romney left office, his staff deleted all emails from the server in the governor’s office and hauled off 17 state-owned computers. But, several email exchanges between his administration and him were spared and obtained by the Journal.

Romney signed the individual mandate into law on April 12, 2006, requiring all Massachusetts residents to have or buy health insurance. After signing the bill, Romney thanked his top aide via email, saying the law would help “hundreds of thousands of people … have healthier and happier lives,” the WSJ reported.

Although Romney’s original proposal didn’t include an individual mandate, it was later adopted, despite uncertainty.

“We must have an individual mandate for any plan to work,” wrote Tim Murphy, Romney’s health secretary, to the governor and several aides. (RELATED: ‘It’s offical’: Spelling is hard for Romney campaign)

In addition, to an individual mandate, Romney and his aides also discussed ways to motivate employers to give insurance.

“I know the dems hate this, but we can also [throw] back in the Gov’s original notion of having some sort of ‘public disclosure’ of employers who promote a culture of uninsurance,” wrote Cindy Gillespie, a top Romney adviser.

Gillespie suggested publishing a list of companies with uninsured workers in the Boston Globe with hopes of keeping the insurance issue “front and center,” she wrote.

While Romney once boasted about his success in passing the individual mandate, he has since come under criticism for the bill that shares many commonalities with President Obama’s health care reform. Today, Romney defends his actions arguing that Obamacare is a federal takeover, while his mandate is a state-wide initiative.

Both Obama and Romney’s health care bills include an individual mandate, which many Republicans believe is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the health care bill this month.

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