Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) will deliver a major speech Thursday on healthcare in his native state of Michigan.
In the speech, Romney will lay out five principles guiding his 2012 campaign on healthcare:
- Restore to the states the responsibility and resources to care for their poor, uninsured, and chronically ill.
- Give 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.
- Reduce the influence of lawsuits on medical practice and costs.
- Make healthcare more like a consumer market and less like a government program.
Conservatives have decried the Massachusetts healthcare reform as "RomneyCare" for its similarities to Obama's healthcare law, specifically its requirement that each individual buy insurance or face a penalty (the so-called "individual mandate.")
Obama and his advisers have gleefully traded on the association, mockingly thanking Romney for the idea that inspired their own plan. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a top conservative figure, has demanded that Romney repudiate his previous reforms.
To date, Romney's stood by his efforts to expand coverage as governor, though he says he has regrets about certain provisions (though he hasn't specified which ones). When put on the spot in political settings, Romney explains that if Obama relied so much on the Massachusetts plan as a model, then Obama should have called Romney to ask for input on the federal healthcare reform.
For the former Massachusetts governor, the choice of the setting is significant. Romney was raised in the state of Michigan, where his father, George Romney, served as a Republican governor. Romney announced his 2008 presidential bid there and won the primary with nearly 39 percent of the vote. Republicans enjoyed success there statewide last fall and are hoping to turn it into more of a battleground in 2012 than it's been in past cycles.
The university's campus isn't known as the most hospitable location for Republicans, though. Groups of undergraduates and law students protested their Republican commencement speakers this year, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), respectively.