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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Health care for some

Catching up, somewhat belatedly, on the fine campaign commercial staged by Mitt Romney to take credit for health care legislation that he was attempting to gut at the very same time.

Romney's Faneuil Hall stagecraft was totally reminiscent of the scene almost 18 years ago when a presidential hopeful tried to ride the work of the Legislature into the White House. Then, as now, the political press corps that only looks at broad brush strokes and not the fine line details, proclaimed the Mittser an A-tier candidate because of the law that will require both employers and individuals to purchase health insurance.

One small problem: Romney, playing to the right wing base, vetoed the provision that would require businesses that don't provide coverage to pay a $295 per person assessment to enable the state to do so.

It was presidential all right -- just like Texas Gov. George Bush vetoing a patient's bill of rights only to take credit later in the 2000 campaign.

So was the political grandstanding of the scene -- bring Kennedy, DiMasi and Travaglini into his political commercial. The only thing missing was the Mission Accomplished banner.

And of course, the ultimate cheap shot here -- Romney has been AWOL from leadership in Massachusetts just like... oh never mind.

But the hard work lies ahead. There are serious issues with the law's ability to extend coverage to the promised groups: issues of affordability of policies (both by individuals and the commonwealth) and what would be included in this policies; issues of making sure this time around that the business community does not work to sink the law they way it did in the 1980s.

The Massachusetts law is definitely a worthwhile experiment. It is far from certain of success. Already its is being swallowed up in the vast maw of presidential politics, with pundits on the left and right oversimplifying its provisions to suit their own needs. It deserves a chance to work without being swallowed up in rhetoric.


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