While in Massachusets, Mitt Rimney created the "RomneyCare" mandated health plan. Now that he's running for President, he's getting ready to push for a free market solution.
Romney to Pitch a State-by-State Health Insurance Plan - New York Times
It relies on federal incentives for market reforms, tax deductions and other changes to encourage people to buy health insurance and drive down costs.
There is no individual mandate in Mr. Romney's plan for the rest of the country. Instead, it concentrates on a "federalist" approach, premised on the belief that it is impossible to create a uniform system for the entire country. Along these lines, the federal government would offer incentives to states to take their own necessary steps to bring down the cost of health insurance.
According to a preview of the presentation provided by Mr. Romney's policy advisers yesterday, Mr. Romney will highlight how the nearly 45 million uninsured in the country can be divided into roughly three groups: about a third are eligible for public programs but are not enrolled; a third are low income but ineligible for public programs and need some help from the government to purchase health insurance; a third are middle income but have chosen not to buy health insurance.
In his plan, Mr. Romney proposes taking federal money currently being used to help states cover the cost of medical care for the uninsured and offering that money to states to help low-income people who are not eligible for Medicaid and other public programs to buy their own private health insurance.
The same pool of money will be wielded as a carrot for states to reform their health insurance regulations to help drive costs down and make plans affordable. That would include reducing the number of requirements for coverage that states impose on health insurance providers or lifting restrictions in some states on health maintenance organizations.
Mr. Romney, who helped found a hugely successful private equity firm, argues that the existing tax system penalizes those who do not acquire their health insurance through their employer, and that has prevented the development of a vigorous, affordable health insurance market. Those who acquire health insurance from their employers pay for their premiums with pre-tax dollars, but those who do not must use post-tax dollars to buy it. So Mr. Romney wants to allow people who buy their own health insurance to be able to deduct premiums, deductibles and co-payments from their income.
Eventually, Ms. Canfield said, the goal would be for people to be able to opt out of employer plans if they do not like them and go out on the individual market to buy health insurance on their own.
These all sound like really good ideas from the bare bones descriptions. It's a shame that Governor Romney didn't push for a plan like this while he was in Massachusets. It's possible that he didn't do so because the Massachusets legislature never would have gone along with it. On the other hand, his actions as governor leave me unsure of how President Romney would react to a stubborn Democratic Congress.