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bumper sticker of Mitt saying I stand by what I said, whatever it was
It's no surprise to anyone that Gov. Mitt Romney had a whole different attitude about health care coverage than presidential candidate Mitt Romney. It is, however much he wants to run from it, part of his Massachusetts legacy. But because the governor had his crew go on a scrubbing mission when he left office by buying hard drives from state-owned computers, it's been guesswork getting all the details of his support for a program that looks, in many ways, like the "ObamaCare" he now trashes at every opportunity.

However, Mark Maremont at The Wall Street Journal went searching anyway with a public records request and turned up some e-mails the governor's team missed:

The emails show the Republican governor was closely engaged in negotiating details of the bill, working with top Democratic state leaders and drafting early copies of opinion articles backing it.

Mr. Romney and his aides, meanwhile, strongly defended the so-called individual mandate, a requirement that everyone in Massachusetts have or buy heath insurance. And they privately discussed ideas that might be anathema to today's GOP—including publicly shaming companies that didn't provide enough health insurance to employees. [...]

Mr. Romney once trumpeted the overhaul as his signature achievement as governor, but he has since played it down amid GOP attacks on the 2010 federal health-care bill signed by President Barack Obama, which bears similarities to the Massachusetts plan. Both contain individual mandates that require residents to buy health insurance.

The Journal was a sharp critic of the Romney health coverage reform even thought the conservative Heritage Foundation crafted parts of it. Romney appealed to conservatives in backing his plan, noting that it depended on the private sector and an emphasis on personal responsibility.

Romney has tried to put distance between his state plan and the federal plan by claiming, among other things, that its nationwide scope is unconstitutional. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the health reform plan's constitutionality is expected this month, possibly as early as this week.

In 2006, many Democrats in Massachusetts opposed the Romney plan because of its individual mandate. Instead they supported government-run insurance, more along the lines of "single-payer" systems.

In an Op-Ed published in the Journal the day before Romney signed the legislation April 12, 2006, the governor wrote "Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian." But the e-mails show a line that didn't make the edited version in which Romney added: "An uninsured libertarian might counter that he could refuse the free care, but under law, that is impossible—and inhumane."

In a PowerPoint presentation to the Chamber of Commerce just a few days after signing the plan into law, the Boston Globe reported at the time:

"The key factor that some of my libertarian friends forget is that today, everybody who doesn't have insurance is getting free coverage from government," Romney said, citing the number of uninsured people who receive free treatment at hospital emergency rooms. "And the question is, do we want people to pay what they can afford, or do we want people to be able to ride free on everybody else? And when that's recognized as the choice, most conservatives come my way."

On this matter, the candidate now would like the whole nation to suffer from what he so often does: Romnesia, that public unremembrance the governor loves to apply when what he has done and said in the past is an inconvenient reminder of his political fickleness.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 08:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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