Romney: 'One-Size-Fits-All' Approach To Health Insurance Would Fail

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Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) on Friday before the Florida Medical Association outlined his health care proposal,which would allow states to develop their own plans to expand access tohealth insurance and make coverage more affordable, the Washington Timesreports. The proposal would not mandate that individuals or employerspurchase health insurance, both provisions included in theMassachusetts health insurance law enacted when Romney served as governor (Dinan, Washington Times, 8/25).

Underthe proposal, states could use federal funds currently provided to helpcover the cost of care for the uninsured to help purchase privatecoverage for low-income residents who do not qualify for public healthinsurance programs (Madkour, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer,8/25). The proposal also would use federal funds as an incentive toprompt states to revise health insurance regulations to reduce the costof private coverage (Washington Times, 8/25).

Inaddition, the proposal would make Medicaid into a block grant programwith fewer federal rules to provide states with more flexibility toadminister their programs and help residents purchase private healthinsurance (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report,8/24). The proposal also would provide tax deductions for individualswho purchase private health insurance and would cap damages in medicalmalpractice lawsuits (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 8/25).

Romneysaid, "A one-size-fits-all national health care system is bound tofail. It ignores the sharp difference between states, and it relies onWashington bureaucracy to manage. I don't want the people who ran theKatrina cleanup to manage our health care system."

Edwards Response

Presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards(D-N.C.) released a statement that criticized the proposal. He said,"Romney's cure is worse than the disease." According to Edwards, theproposal would not "take on" the pharmaceutical and health insuranceindustries and would "make a dysfunctional health care system evenworse."

In addition, he said that the tax deductions included inthe proposal in large part would benefit higher-income and healthyindividuals and that "taking money away from emergency rooms isdownright dangerous" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/25).

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Editorial

The proposal, which would allow states to "work out their ownapproaches" to health care with some "crucial free-market assistance"from the federal government," represents a "step forward for Mr. Romneyon health policy, largely because it doesn't take Massachusetts as its model," a Wall Street Journal editorial states.

Accordingto the editorial, the Massachusetts law, which "is now praised byliberals as a prototype for national policy," has "done a great deal toset back the kind of tax reform" included in Romney's current proposal,and the "issue for GOP primary voters to consider is why he went such adifferent direction in Boston" and "how far and easily he'd bend to aDemocratic Congress" on "core matters of principle."

Theeditorial concludes, "Romney's conversion to free-market health carethinking is nonetheless welcome -- assuming he believes it" (Wall Street Journal, 8/27).

Huckabee on Obesity

In other election news, presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Saturday at a meeting of the Southern Governors' Association in Biloxi, Miss., discussed the effects that increased U.S. obesity rates could have on the economy and national security, the AP/Boston Herald reports.

Huckabeesaid that 61% of active duty military personnel are overweight. "You'vegot a serious situation with a generation of kids coming up sounhealthy they won't be able to pass the military physical," Huckabeesaid, adding, "We keep talking about the war on terror -- who's goingto fight it if we don't have enough people who are healthy enough toshow up and pick up a backpack."

During his tenure as governor, Huckabee established several programs to reduce obesity rates in Arkansas (AP/Boston Herald, 8/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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