A Healthy Blog

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

Romney's Choice and Our Dilemma

Romney's Choice and Our Dilemma

May 10, 2005

American journalism's prince of darkness, Robert D. Novak, wrote on Sunday's Boston Herald that Gov. Mitt Romney "in a recent secret Washington meeting with national political operatives, signaled he probably will forgo seeking re-election in 2006 in order to pursue the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Romney did not flatly reveal his future intentions, according to sources who were present. but he did say a presidential race would be difficult if he were concentrating on a 2006 campaign for governor and were still in that office in 2007-08."

Tied with other recent Administration moves -- Health & Human Services Chief Ron Preston departure this summer, Romney's Admin & Finance Secretary Eric Kriss leaving this fall -- we wonder, what effect will all this have on the prospects for comprehensive health reform between now and the end of 2006?

The Administration needs to develop major health access legislation to propose to the House and Senate or risk losing hundreds of millions of dollars tied to the new federal Medicaid waiver. The brain drain, potential lame duck status, and potential loss of a state focus do not auger well for such a high intensity/high profile initiative. This would leave legislative leaders in a much stronger position to direct a reform agenda -- and leave the Governor with only a veto to make his mark.

In some ways this resembles the last major health reform drive in 1996 when Gov. Bill Weld, seeking to win Sen. John Kerry's seat, was a passive observer of that year's health reform, and his veto was easily overridden by the House and Senate in July 1996. It's impossible to predict how this will play out. The one certainty, if Gov. Romney becom