WASHINGTON – Mike Huckabee is bashing the Massachusetts health care plan as a failed experiment -- and saying that Mitt Romney should consider apologizing for steering its passage when he was governor.
Although activists and party leaders have said Romney’s health care plan would be a major issue in his expected presidential run, Huckabee’s criticism is one of the most direct attacks that Romney has faced from a potential challenger.
“It could be argued that if RomneyCare were a patient, the prognosis would be dismal,” Huckabee writes in his new book, A Simple Government.
Huckabee, who said yesterday that he is “seriously contemplating” another run for president, also points to the similarities between Romney’s plan in Massachusetts and President Obama’s plan for the nation.
“Ever since the debate over [Obama’s] program began, it’s been compared to RomneyCare, the failed statewide health-care program implemented by none other than my fellow GOP member Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts,” Huckabee writes, under a heading, “The States as Laboratories: When Experiments Fail” “Any critical assessment of this program will show that it failed…and yet the Obama administration decided to emulate it in its pursuit of a national health-care program.”
He claims that while Romney’s attempt to control health care costs was “a noble goal indeed,” it has instead increased costs and diminished care.
“The people of Massachusetts participated in an experiment that blew up in their faces, and now they have to stand in line at the burn clinic,” he writes. “If our goal in health-care reform is better care at lower cost, then we should take a lesson from RomneyCare, which shows that socialized medicine does not work. Period.”
Romney has largely defended the plan in Massachusetts -- and the goal of getting more residents covered -- while still criticizing the federal plan passed by Democrats. His chief argument has been that states should experiment with different approaches to health care, but that Obama’s national plan infringes on states’ rights and should be repealed.
In his updated paperback version of his book, No Apology, Romney also blamed the Democratic-controlled state legislature and Governor Deval Patrick for their implementation of the Massachusetts plan.
“Mitt Romney is proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting everyone covered,” Romney’s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, said in response to Huckabee’s criticism. “What's important now is to return to the states the power to determine their own healthcare solutions by repealing Obamacare. A one-size-fits-all plan for the entire nation just doesn't work.”
Romney’s role in the Massachusetts health care plan – his signature achievement in his four-year term as governor – has been seen as the chief roadblock in his quest for the Republican nomination.
"I think it's not a killer for him,” Huckabee told the Associated Press. “But he has to say either 'I love it,' 'I hate it,' or, 'Hey I tried it, it didn't work and that's why I would say to you, let's not do it nationally.’”
"The position he should take is to say: 'Look, the reason Obamacare won't work is because we've tried it at the state level and we know it won't work,'" Huckabee added.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.