Romney: 'I didn't get the job done' lowering healthcare costs as governor

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney seemed to concede Tuesday that the healthcare reforms he signed into law did not successfully lower costs.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) cited recent reports that Massachusetts is looking for new ways to cut healthcare costs in the state. Santorum said the effort shows that Romney’s healthcare plan focused on the wrong problem — expanding coverage instead of controlling costs.

“It’s absolutely right that there’s a lot that needs to be done — and I didn’t get the job done in Massachusetts — and getting the healthcare costs down in this country is something I think we’ve got to do at the national level, and I intend to do that,” Romney said.

Romney, who headed into the debate the front-runner for the GOP nomination, stuck to familiar ground while defending his healthcare record. He has consistently said his plan was right for Massachusetts, but that Obama was wrong to adopt a nearly identical model at the national level.

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“We don’t have a government insurance plan,” Romney said. “What we do is rely on private insurers … For the people who didn’t have insurance, they get private insurance, not government insurance. And the best way to make markets work is for people to be able to buy their own products from private enterprises.”

That is an accurate description of both the Massachusetts reforms and Obama’s healthcare law. Both established a new marketplace to buy private coverage, neither created a new government plan, and both provide subsidies to help people purchase private coverage.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), meanwhile, seized on the Obama administration's decision to abandon implementation of the CLASS Act, a new long-term care program created by the healthcare law. The Health and Human Services Department said Friday it cannot find a way to successfully implement the program.

"I think it has to be stated that Obamacare is so flat-out unpopular that even the Obama administration chose to reject part of Obamacare," she said. "Secretary Sebelius, who is the head of Health and Human Services, reported that the government can't even afford that part and has to throw it out, and now the administration is arguing with itself. When even the Obama administration wants to repeal this bill, I think we’re going to win this thing. We’re going to repeal it.”

The Obama administration opposes repealing the CLASS Act.