Perry: Blame feds for lack of health coverage in Texas

Perry said federal Medicaid funding should be converted into block grants to the states, which House Republicans and his main GOP rival, Mitt Romney, also support.

Perry was asked about his state’s healthcare record following his attacks on the plan Romney signed into law as governor of Massachusetts. Romney’s reforms included an individual coverage mandate, which conservatives have come to abhor as a central piece of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul. The state has the lowest percentage of uninsured residents in the country.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman used the sniping between Perry and Romney to portray his experience with healthcare reform as the best of both worlds.

Huntsman helped craft an insurance exchange in Utah — the centerpiece of both Romney’s plan and the federal law. But Utah’s exchange operates based on a far more laissez-faire model than Massachusetts’.

“We did better than Rick in terms of covering the uninsured, and we don’t have a mandate,” Huntsman said. “It allows the free market to create a marketplace of choices and options for people. I believe that once Obamacare is repealed — and it will be — the question will then be, ‘What do we do now?’ And I’m here to tell you that what we did in Utah is going to be a perfect example of what we do now.”