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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Romney and reform

In 2006, Massachusetts became the first state to pass comprehensive health reform. Much like the national health reform bill that became law this year, it focused on regulating the individual market, providing subsidies for lower-income families, and requiring that everyone pay into the system. Republican Governor Mitt Romney signed the bill, giving his stamp of approval to a law that would ensure the coverage of 95% of the state’s residents.

Gov. Romney reached across the aisle and worked with Democrats to pass a bill that made sure that every Bay Stater had access to quality, affordable health care. Earlier this year, after Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, he remarked, “I think it’s very important to get everybody insured.’’

According to a report by the Urban Institute, released just two years after the passage of reform in Massachusetts,

Strong gains in coverage were reported for lower-income adults (defined as adults with family income less than 300% of the federal poverty level), with uninsurance dropping from 24% in Fall 2006 to less than 8% in Fall 2008.


Among higher-income adults, where uninsurance was much less prevalent prior to reform, uninsurance also fell. By Fall 2008, only 1.4% of higher-income adults in Massachusetts were uninsured, down from 5.3% in Fall 2006.

Census Bureau numbers this year show that the number of people without health insurance across the U.S. went up in 2009. In Massachusetts, however, the number of people without health insurance went down, and they can proudly boast that they have the lowest percentage of uninsured in the country.

So what’s the problem?

According to Politico, a group of conservative activists are now asking Gov. Romney to apologize for his role in the passage of health reform in Massachusetts.

That’s right. Despite having the lowest percentage of uninsured in the nation, these activists want him to apologize for his hand in ensuring that residents of his state are no longer at the mercy of insurance companies.

Those demanding an apology from Gov. Romney are after one thing, and one thing only—political gain.

We don’t think Gov. Romney has anything to apologize for. He helped ensure that those in his state have access to quality, affordable coverage, and he helped level the playing field between consumers and insurance companies.

That’s something to stand up and be proud of.