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Political Notebook

Patrick extols state health plan as model

Globe Staff / April 14, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Governor Deval Patrick delivered a strong report card yesterday for Massachusetts’ 2006 health care overhaul while urging opponents of the national plan to turn away from trying to repeal it and focus instead on controlling medical costs.

“Health care reform is doing exactly what it was designed to do,’’ said Patrick, in a short speech. “We do indeed lead the nation in providing health care to our residents.’’

Patrick marked the law’s fifth anniversary this week with remarks and a panel discussion at the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank. His appearance at the forum came among national media appearances to promote his new memoir, “A Reason to Believe.’’ He has appeared on NPR radio, CNN, and MSNBC. On Tuesday night, he sat for an interview on “The Daily Show.’’

Patrick, a staunch supporter of President Obama, said yesterday that the Massachusetts plan offers a good argument in defense of the national effort.

“It’s the only successful experiment in universal care in the country,’’ the governor said, in an interview after his remarks. “National health care reform is not so scary for us because we’re familiar with it. To be able to extend reliable health security to over 98 percent of our population is something that all of us feel very proud of.’’

Patrick acknowledged in his remarks that policy makers in Massachusetts concentrated first on providing access to care and that the state now needs to do more to control rising medical costs.

The governor did not respond when given a chance to link former governor Mitt Romney to the state’s plan, which was crafted under the Republican’s leadership. Democrats have used the law’s anniversary this week to tweak Romney, a likely presidential candidate, by thanking him for signing a law many Republicans outside the state do not support.

The forum wasn’t entirely centered on policy: Patrick told a Red Sox fan in the audience this it is too soon to panic over the team’s slow start. “Be cool,’’ he urged.

And, of course, between points of health care policy, the governor let slip that his book is “on sale today.’’ — MARK ARSENAULT

Barbour makes first visit to N.H. this year
BOW, N.H. – Mississippi governor Haley Barbour last night told an audience in the lead presidential primary state of New Hampshire he would offer “casual, comfortable, plainspoken common sense’’ if he decided to seek the Republican presidential nomination.

He argued that the American people “are tired of happy talk’’ and need straight information about cutting government spending while also resisting the temptation to raise taxes.

He pledged a decision about his candidacy by the end of the month as he kicked off a two-day trip — his first to the state this year.

Speaking hours after President Obama outlined a plan to cut the federal budget deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years, Barbour zeroed in on the Democratic administration’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

“Can we fully grow our way out of the deficit? I think there’s a question there. I can tell you this: We can’t spend ourselves out of a deficit, that’s for sure,’’ the governor told a crowd of about 30 people in the home of former New Hampshire Republican Party chairwoman Jayne Millerick.

Barbour added: “This is an administration that has an unlimited faith in limitless government.’’

Before speaking, the native of Yazoo City, Miss., greeted guests by saying, “Hi, I’m Haley.’’ Later, after telling the crowd about his life’s story, he said, “People have called me ‘Haley’ a lot longer than they called me ‘governor.’ ’’ — GLEN JOHNSON