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Expert: 'A Lot' Of Mass. Health Care Law Was Romney's Idea

This article is more than 12 years old.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s work on the health care reform in the Bay State offers a window on his leadership style. He worked closely, sometimes at odds, with Democratic leaders to reach a deal with widespread support.

Romney played a key role in crafting, passing and implementing the 2006 law that became the model for the country, according to Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. He helped draft some of the compromises during debate on the near-universal coverage law.

According to Widmer, Romney was behind two of the law's main principles.

"The first most radical idea was the individual mandate requiring everybody to have health insurance," Widmer said. "Then, the idea of insurance exchanges for small businesses and individuals and providing subsidy coverage was his idea as well."

The governor and his staff worked behind the scenes. Widmer said the governor was involved, but out of the limelight.

Romney was working with both the right and left of Washington's insiders. He talked to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and the Bush Administration, because the Bush Administration needed to approve their plans, Widmer said.

Widmer said Romney seemed both politically and substantively vested in the state's health care reform.

"In the first two or three years of his term, he was operating very much as a corporate chief executive officer," Widmer said. "But I saw in the health care debate that there really had been an evolving maturity."

This program aired on May 12, 2011.

Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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