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Romney wouldn't recommend Romneycare for states

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Byron York

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has sometimes gotten testy -- most recently in an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier -- when it is suggested he has claimed the health care plan he created in Massachusetts should be a model for the nation.  In fact, Romney has said on many occasions that he did not intend Romneycare to be a model for a national plan but that it would be appropriate for individual states.  "I think it's a good model for other states," he said on "Meet the Press" in December 2007.  "Maybe not every state, but most."

That was four years ago.  Today, Romney's Massachusetts health plan is a sore spot with many Republican voters as he pursues the GOP presidential nomination.  Romney has found himself on many occasions denying that he ever thought the plan would be a model for the nation.  But what about the states?  When Romney visited the Washington Examiner offices Wednesday morning, I asked what states would benefit by adopting the system he created in Massachusetts.

"In its entirety, not very many," Romney answered.  "Because it's not even perfect for Massachusetts.  At the time we created it, I vetoed several measures and said these, I think, are mistakes, and you in Massachusetts will find you have to correct them over time.  But that's the nature of a piece of legislation of this nature.  You'll see what works, what doesn't, and you'll make the changes.  But they have not made those changes, and in some cases they made things worse.  So I wouldn't encourage any state to adopt it in toto."

"You wouldn't recommend that any state adopt the plan that was adopted in Massachusetts in its entirety?"

"In its entirety, no," Romney said.

Romney added that he believes some "principles" from his Massachusetts plan would benefit states, among them the creation of exchanges in which individuals would be able to buy health insurance with pre-tax dollars, just like people who are insured through their jobs do today.  "For the long term for the country, its very wise for people to be able to own their own insurance," Romney said, "as opposed to having it purchased for them by their employer."  Such exchanges could be entirely private, Romney added.

That's one widely-discussed option that's part of many health care proposals.  But bottom line: Would Romney recommend his Massachusetts plan for other states, as he has in the past?  The answer is no.

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Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner