Romney defends Massachusetts healthcare law, says it isn't like Obama's

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney defended his healthcare record Monday as his more conservative rivals noted its similarity to the controversial federal healthcare reform law.

Romney tried to distance the reforms he crafted as Massachusetts governor from President Obama’s healthcare law.

“If you think what we did in Massachusetts and what President Obama did are the same, take a closer look,” Romney said. “Because, number one, he raised taxes $500 billion and helped slow down the U.S. economy by doing it. We didn’t raise taxes.”

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Romney also noted the federal law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, which will make cuts to Medicare payments to doctors.

“He puts in place a panel that ultimately is going to tell people what kind of care they can have,” he said. “We didn’t do anything like that.”

“I’m not running for governor; I’m running for president,” Romney said during Monday’s debate. “And if I’m president, on day one, I’ll direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to grant a waiver from ObamaCare to all 50 states. It’s a problem, it’s bad law, it’s unconstitutional, I’ll get rid of it.”

There are strong similarities between the reforms Romney crafted as Massachusetts governor and Obama’s healthcare law. Both take fundamentally the same approach — both create a new marketplace, called an exchange, to purchase insurance, provide subsidies for low-income people to buy coverage, and require most people to be insured.

A question about the individual coverage mandate provided one of the debate’s most unusual moments. Moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R) whether a hypothetical uninsured 30-year-old should be left to die if he gets into an accident — an option that prompted scattered cheers from the audience.

“That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks,” Paul said.