A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality



April 4, 2011

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the legislature's enactment of chapter 58, the Massachusetts health reform law. Five years ago, we wrote that supporters should thank Speaker DiMasi, Senate President Travaglini, but also give Governor Romney his due: "We’ve had more than our share of disagreements. Still, Gov. Romney’s commitment to reform was unwavering. And his key insight — using safety net dollars to expand coverage — is the cornerstone of this reform."

Community Catalyst executive director Rob Restuccia has published an incisive op-ed in the Des Moines Register, Mitt Romney should stop running from his big achievement (why Iowa? I have no idea). The article reminds a national audience of Governor Romney's role in conceiving of and supporting health reform in Massachusetts. Restuccia calls on our former Governor to embrace his own achievement:

Governor Romney was a key figure in the Massachusetts health care reform debate. He played an important role in defining the fundamental provisions of the state's reform plan and building momentum to pass the groundbreaking state law. He also persuaded the Bush administration to provide the federal funding to carry out the experiment - something no Democrat, even Ted Kennedy, could have achieved. Five years ago on April 12, he signed it into law, hailing it as "an achievement [that] comes around once in a generation." And with good reason, Massachusetts can take justifiable pride in doing what every government should aspire to: solving an important problem for real people....

Romney should be proud of his role in the passage of health reform in Massachusetts. Today, 98 percent of Massachusetts residents are insured, public support for the law is high, and it served as the model for landmark federal legislation that stands a good chance of solving an important national problem.

And yet Romney does not sound proud. In fact, he seems at times to forget - or to hope voters will forget - that the policies he critiques today are the same policies he signed into law five years ago. This selective amnesia is doubly troubling. It suggests not only repudiation of what is arguably his greatest policy achievement as Massachusetts governor. But as he positions himself for primaries dominated by the GOP's most conservative voters, it's also a repudiation of his willingness to find common ground and build workable solutions with people whose point of view differs from his own.

We agree. Five years later, we urge Governor Romney to give himself due recognition of his role.
-Brian Rosman