Mike Huckabee goes after Romneycare with particular vigor in his new book, but a Republican defender of the plan notes to me that some of those attacks seem to lack factual support. The book paints Romneycare broadly as an unpopular, acknowledged failure -- when it remains quite popular in the (liberal) state. And the details seem, at best, painted with a very broad brush.
One particularly unfair attack: “A noble goal, indeed," Huckabee writes of Romney's plan. "But when the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation stepped into the lab…they found that health care, which was 16 percent of the state budget in 1990, had jumped to 35 percent in 2010.”
The problem: Romney's planned was passed in 2006, not 1990. By that time, health care costs had jumped in Massachusetts (as they had around the country), adding up to 32% of the fiscal year 2006 budget -- according to the same organization's 2005 assessment. So the growth has been from 32% to 35%, hardly out of line with the national picture.
Huckabee also argues that Romney's plan drove up costs for individuals while care declined: “If everyone in Massachusetts is paying more, it must mean patients are receiving better care, right? In fact, just the opposite is happening.”
But while the state pays substantially more for health care than does Huckabee's Arkansas (though less than states like Ohio and New Hampshire), premiums are down for people purchasing care in the individual market -- the focus of the reform -- and have, in broad terms, shown increases "similar to the national trend rates," according to a study from the free market-oriented Pioneer Institute last year.
More clearly, the evidence that people see the quality of their health care declining as spending rises seems weak: A 2009 New England Journal of Medicine survey found 85% of state doctors saying health care had either no impact or a positive one. The doctors had other complaints, but a mere 6% said the quality of care had declined. Surveys also show the plan is popular with consumers, and the legislature is hardly rushing to repeal it -- though the state is struggling to contain the cost of health care spending.So, so, so deceitful.