DENVER (AP) — Mitt Romney said in an interview Thursday that his plan to provide health insurance to everyone in Massachusetts was superior to the one it inspired, President Obama’s much-debated national health care law.
“My health care plan I put in place in my state has everyone insured, but we didn’t go out and raise taxes on people and have a unelected board tell people what kind of health care they can have,” Romney said in an interview with CBS’ Denver affiliate, KCNC.
The law signed by Romney in 2006 sought to expand health care but did not create universal insurance.
Romney and Massachusetts lawmakers decided that rather than reinvent the entire health care system, the law would instead close a series of holes, allowing the vast majority of residents to keep their existing plans.
While Massachusetts residents are required to have insurance, the law provides certain exemptions.
Those who can show they earn too much to qualify for the state’s subsidized health care plan, but not enough to afford even the least expensive nonsubsidized plan, are not required to pay the so-called “individual mandate.”
State officials say about 400,000 residents have become insured since the law took effect. More than 98 percent of Massachusetts residents are now insured, including nearly all children.
The law Romney signed also created an unelected board — known as the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority Board — which oversees an independent state agency that decides what level of insurance complies with the state law.
The agency can also exempt people whose financial hardships prevent them from enrolling in health insurance.
Obama’s plan was modeled on Romney’s, which has made some conservatives wary of the former Massachusetts governor. Some GOP activists were angered when a Romney spokeswoman touted the Massachusetts plan on Fox News earlier this month.
In Thursday’s interview, one of a series the presumptive Republican presidential nominee gave local broadcast outlets in swing states, Romney was asked how he’d appeal to women voters on health care and other issues. The Obama campaign has been pounding Romney for his stances on birth control, abortion and other women’s issues.
Romney replied by talking about how he’d improve the economy and education. Then he shifted to health care, saying it was “a big issue.”
Romney also laughed off concerns that a hurricane could disrupt the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week. “The winds of change are coming,” he said, “so we’re looking forward to it.”