It’s true that politicians will twist themselves into supple shapes to appeal to voters. But Romney’s contortions so far have already been unprecedented. In classic baby-eating conservative form, Romney’s best acrobatics may still be ahead, because one of the the biggest challenge he faces concerns Romney’s most effective and humane work as a political animal: the Massachusetts Healthcare Reform package which turned six years-old today. This is only a problem because today’s religious-right dominated conservative movement cannot abide decency and humanity married to good government in any way, shape, or form, and especially when The Enemy might get credit for saving thousands of US lives and sparing thousands more endless misery.
As Governor, Willard Romney pushed for and signed a conservative leaning package that joined government management with commercial health insurance companies and created a network of private providers offering affordable, comprehensive policies with strong government regulation and oversight. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t even great; but compared to the dismal state of healthcare in just a vast improvement over the status quo. Because of Romney almost every resident of MA was covered, those hurting financially or suffering expensive medical problems had the benefit of subsidies to help them cover their premiums, rules against recession and other underhand tricks, and negotiated rates for any remaining out of pocket expenses saving patient, medical facility, and taxpayers a ton of money.
This is exactly the plan Obama signed in 2010. It’s not essentially, or basically, it’s precisely how the coverage works under the PPACA, aka Obamacare. The primary political difference betwen the two is Obama’s doesn’t cover abortion and related services whereas Romney’s did. The primary mechanical difference is the ACA also provides a framework for how companies can compete in apples to apples format for prospective insurees across state lines under the jurisdiction of varying state insurance commissions, something a single plan in one state did not have to do.
Like the MA version, the ACA will save taxpayers a ton of money, cut down on the more revolting shenanigans practiced by health insurance companies, and make sure almost every man, women, and child in the US is covered. Like the MA version, the ACA relies on commercial insurance companies, negotiated rates in return for less uncertainty about payment, and personal responsibility, all features proposed and adopted from conservative institutions like the Heritage Foundation.
But the GOP of 2012 is not the Mit Romney of 2006. This is a party composed of neo-conconfederates, good old boys, hard-core fundamentalist nutjobs, and greedy billionaires who have long since lost any trace of a moral compass. So Romney has to now run against his own idea and the idea of his conservative peers as the greatest threat to American capitalism and apple pie since the Red Scare. Can he pull it off? (Romney et al stumbed badly on a no-brainer yesterday when Sam Stein asked the campaign if they supported equal pay for women). That’s the big question, the answer will be one of the deciding issues in the 2012 Presidential election.