June 8, 2007 10:58AM

Romney Still Loves His Health Plan…Sort Of

In an interview with the Associated Press, Mitt Romney called for Republicans to follow his lead in proposing universal health care coverage. “This is a topic where I don’t think the Republican Party can sit on the sidelines and just say no,” he told the AP, which reported that “he boasted about passing universal health care in Massachusetts.” However, the AP also reported that Romney “treaded carefully when asked about a national mandate requiring all workers to have health insurance. ‘In our evaluation of what worked in our state, the only way it could work … was to make sure that everybody participated in the system,’ he said.”

Of course it’s worth pointing out that:

Romney’s plan didn’t achieve universal coverage in Massachusetts. The state has exempted 20 percent of the uninsured from the individual mandate. For that matter, the mandate doesn’t actually take effect until July 1, so we don’t know how effective it will be. Given the rate of noncompliance with Massachusetts’ mandate for auto insurance, we can expect less than universal compliance even among those still affected by the health care mandate.

Romney’s plan involved far more than a mandate. It also created a Hillary Clinton managed‐​competition‐​style regulatory authority called the Massachusetts Health Care Connector. This new regulatory body has already mandated that every health care policy sold in the state must cover prescription drugs and has outlawed policies with deductibles of more than $2,000.

And Romney also significantly increased Medicaid eligibility and provided taxpayer‐​funded subsidies for families of four earning as much as $62,000 year, effectively extending welfare well into the middle class.

I can understand why he would “tread carefully.”