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Mitt Romney and healthcare

Brian Kaneb | Thursday, September 13, 2012

How would a Romney Administration approach health care? The presidential hopeful would like voters to believe he would never compromise on the issue, but at the same time recognizes the need to appease the varying factions that support him. The fact is that such competing factors make this question much more complex than it appears on the surface. However, we can get a glimpse into Romney’s decision-making process by looking at how he has developed during his time as a political figure.

Mitt Romney left a lasting impact on healthcare during his time in Massachusetts when he pushed for a bill he believed would lead to universal coverage through the individual mandate. Though this may seem like heresy to Republicans in hindsight, Romney obviously disagreed given the political context at the time.

His approach seemed to make sense both pragmatically and politically. Not only did almost every citizen in Massachusetts already have health insurance, but Romney also likely believed he could get the electorate behind addressing the “free riders” whose expenses are paid for by the taxpayer. As a Massachusetts native, I can guarantee Romnney knew the electorate would not be particularly resistant to the individual mandate as well. Massachusetts is about as liberal as Mississippi is conservative.

It is in large part due to these actions that Mitt Romney has been forced to spend much of his time on the national stage addressing health care. Not only has he had to factor in new voters with new priorities, but he also must realize that the Republican Party of 2012 is not the Republican Party of 2000. The Tea Party has brought the Republican Party further to the right by solidifying a significant role in the public discourse and obtaining the resources a presidential candidate longs for.

Mitt Romney has adjusted his strategy accordingly. He realized the Republican primaries were essentially a test of his conservative values, and thus repeatedly pointed out he would repeal “Obamacare” whenever health care came up on the campaign. As it became increasingly obvious Romney would face President Obama in the general election, he gradually revealed some of the more moderate specifics of his plans for health care. Just this past Sunday, Romney suggested in an interview with NBC that he favored some of the provisions-in particular the ban on health care providers discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions-of “Romneycare.”

It is beyond doubt that Mitt Romney has changed his point of emphasis with regards to health care, just like President Obama did with regards to gay marriage. This may seem confusing on the surface, but it does reveal a trend that could potentially lead us towards an answer to the aforementioned question.

Both in the state and federal levels of government, Romney’s decision-making process has been conservative. He generally prioritizes the issues society wants him to prioritize. While it remains to be seen where public opinion will stand on health care in the future, we at least know a Romney Administration would try its best to avoid creating controversy through its actions.

Brian Kaneb is a junior studing political science and energy studies. He can be reached at bkaneb1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.