A healthy solution?
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney touts his state's landmark health care reform on the conservative op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal. I haven't had time to study the fine print, but it appears not unlike the Swiss system in which individuals are required to purchase health insurance, and those with low incomes will receive subsidies to do so. It also includes a mechanism for automatically enrolling those eligible into Medicaid, because as Romney explains, 20 percent of the 500,000 or so uninsured Massachusetts residents are eligible for Medicaid but are not currently enrolled. It's a good idea, but it makes me wonder if it might make the plan more expensive than Romney lets on.
For Romney, a likely candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2008, it's a smart move politically. The plan is centrist, offering something for everyone--expanded Medicaid coverage and insurance subsidies for liberals, health savings accounts for conservatives. It was passed by a Democratic-controlled Legislature, with the support of a conservative think tank and the backing, it would seem, of at least some of the business community. Granted, die-hard fiscal conservatives and libertarians won't like it, and it falls way, way short of the kind of universal health care favored by much of the left.
Nonetheless, as a Republican, Romney has co-opted what promises to be a major issue for Democrats over the next several years, perhaps allowing the pro-life Mormon to compete for swing voters. The plan may be a disaster, but it will be too soon to know by 2008. This is a good reminder why governors tend to have a clearer path to the White House than senators and House members.