By Julian Pecquet - 03/13/12 06:43 PM EDT
It's unfair to call Mitt Romney the architect of President Obama's healthcare law because of how thoroughly the Republican presidential candidate's reforms were altered under his Democratic successor, a new book argues.
The Great Experiment, a free-market analysis of the 2006 Massachusetts healthcare law, makes the case for giving states more freedom to develop and test their own healthcare solutions.
One of the book's co-authors, on Capitol Hill Tuesday to tout the book, faulted Massachusetts insurance exchange regulators and Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick for fundamentally changing the goals of Romney's reforms, for example by requiring that everyone have high-value, comprehensive coverage.
Romney has come under increasing criticism from primary rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich for allegedly inspiring President Obama's national healthcare reform law, particularly its mandate that everyone have health insurance. Democrats and their allies have been more than eager to add to Romney's grief by saying his reforms inspired them every chance they get.
• requiring far more expensive minimal coverage than the catastrophic insurance Romney had advocated for;
• increasing requirements on small businesses by requiring them to provide higher quality coverage to more workers to avoid penalties;
• undercutting individual responsibility by offering free insurance to everyone under 150 percent of the federal poverty level;
• failing to transform the insurance marketplace for small business by limiting employee choices; and
• failing to keep the cost of uncompensated care under control.
The Patrick administration for its part highlights the law's positives: Massachusetts has a far lower uninsurance rate than the national average (5.6 percent vs. 16.3 percent in 2010); a falling number of safety-net users (315,000 in 2010, down from 445,000 in 2006); and relatively stable premiums ($437 per month in the individual market in both 2006 and 2010) compared to the rest of the country.
The book goes on to argue that the federal government should empower states to experiment with reforms by reforming the tax treatment of insurance, creating state-administered high-risk pools and reforming Medicaid to give states more flexibility.