Romney framed the state-level mandate as a requirement that people take “personal responsibility,” a phrase that often appeals to conservatives. But conservatives object to the government mandate at all levels, not just federal. And Obama’s reform is also aimed at addressing the free-rider problem. Romney also asserted that the Massachusetts reform did not include tax increases, while the federal plan does.
Romney is a top-tier contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, but if he is to win over a critical mass of the party’s conservative base, he needs to convince them that he is no longer the same man who governed Massachusetts for four years. So far, he’s not there. And it may not be possible. Were he to renounce the signature initiative of his time as governor, he would renew his image as a flip-flopper.
Romney devoted the majority of his speech to his proposal for a replacement to Obama’s reform. He aims to boost competition in the insurance market, allow states more flexibility in how they expand access to health care, and make changes in the tax code that make purchasing insurance on one’s own as financially advantageous as buying it through one’s employer.