Discussing the Affordable Care Act with right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt in March, Mitt Romney declared, "If I'm the godfather of this thing, then it gives me the right to kill it." But the former Massachusetts governor isn't merely promising to "kill it dead" at the national level. As it turns out, Romney's plan for draconian cuts to Medicaid would strangle the popular and successful program he put in place in Massachusetts, the one he once touted as "a model for getting everybody insured."
But as the Boston Globe reported today, what Governor Romney giveth, President Romney would taketh away.
Like his new GOP twin in Congress Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has proposed steep cuts to Medicaid spending and pledged to hand-over the shrunken pool of funds as block grants to the states. And it is precisely that formula that would smother his once-beloved Romneycare in its cradle. As the Globe documented, President Romney "would probably cripple the Massachusetts health care law":
"It would have been impossible for Massachusetts to do what it did without increased federal Medicaid support,'' said John McDonough, a major architect of the state's health care overhaul law and now director of Harvard University's Center for Public Health Leadership.As ThinkProgress explained, Romney in the past had been very up front about the crucial role federal funding - and flexibility - played in making his signature achievement possible:
"What he's proposing is in direct opposition to what he did as governor,'' said Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care for All in Massachusetts, citing the Bay State's 98 percent coverage rate, the highest in the nation. "That kind of expansion would not have been possible under a block grant program,'' as Romney has proposed. Block grants give states more flexibility in spending federal money, but restrict funding increases.
"[F]rom the beginning the plan was a 50/50 deal between the federal government and the state government. The Feds fund half of it, they have from the very beginning." The Boston Globe notes that "approximately 56 percent of the gain in coverage was related to increased federal Medicaid support" in Massachusetts, and of the newly insured, "18 percent gained coverage through Medicaid, and another 38 percent gained coverage through Commonwealth Care, a program that federal Medicaid dollars pay half of."But like the new insurance coverage for 30 million Americans nationwide under the Affordable Care Act, the gains in Massachusetts would be a thing of the past under a Romney administration in Washington. Projections from the Congressional Budget Office suggest that 48 million more people would be uninsured under Paul Ryan's House GOP budget, a scheme similar to Romney's. That figure would include hundreds of thousands in the state Romney once governed.
"He was incredibly impressive, with his intellect, his ability. If there is anything that qualifies him to be President of the United States, it is his leadership on this issue."Four years later, Jonathan Gruber reached a much different conclusion about Mitt Romney, or at least this version of him. The difference between his own Boston bill and what Romney calls Obamacare?
"Zero difference," he said. "This is, to my mind, the most blatantly obvious case of politics trumping policy I've ever seen in my life. Because this is an idea, that four or five years ago, Republicans were touting. A guy from the Heritage Foundation spoke at the bill signing in Massachusetts about how good this bill was."Now in 2012, Romney has abandoned his Massachusetts "model" for America and threatens its slow death by his own hand. If snuffing out his bastard love child doesn't make him a godfather of another kind, it does make Mitt Romney a deadbeat dad.
He credited Mitt Romney for not totally disavowing the Massachusetts bill during his presidential campaign, but said Romney's attempt to distinguish between Obama's bill and his own is disingenuous.
"The problem is there is no way to say that," Gruber said. "Because they're the same f--king bill. He just can't have his cake and eat it too. Basically, you know, it's the same bill. He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he's just lying. The only big difference is he didn't have to pay for his. Because the federal government paid for it. Where at the federal level, we have to pay for it, so we have to raise taxes."