By Elise Viebeck - 06/05/12 03:48 PM EDT
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney forcefully defended the individual mandate to buy health insurance when he worked on healthcare reform as governor of Massachusetts, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The state's healthcare overhaul, which inspired and parallels the federal healthcare law signed by President Obama, has dogged Romney throughout his 2012 campaign. He now defends the state effort but calls Obama's healthcare law intrusive and inappropriate, and says he would work to repeal it if elected.
Romney was intimately involved in negotiations over the Massachusetts bill, emails obtained by the paper show, and sided repeatedly with the individual mandate — the provision of the federal law most hated by Republicans that is the subject of a Supreme Court debate on the law's constitutionality. The court is expected to rule later this month.
A line that was not published, according to the paper, read: "An uninsured libertarian might counter that he could refuse the free care, but under law, that is impossible — and inhumane."
Romney's aides also defended the mandate, pushing back when a Democratic proposal did not include it, and discussed singling out companies that did not provide sufficient health insurance to employees, the paper reported.
And in another email, Romney told his administration and finance secretary that "hundreds of thousands … will have healthier and happier lives" as a result of the law.
"Quite a day! … You have made a huge difference," reads an email Romney sent to Thomas Trimarco on the evening of April 12, 2006, the day the bill was signed.
Romney has been criticized for getting rid of nearly all email from his time as governor.
"There has never been an administration that has provided to the opposition research team, or to the public, electronic communications," he responded last November.
The health-reform emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal were from "a small cache … including some that have never publicly surfaced," the paper wrote.