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Romney Foresaw Conservative Blowback From Individual Mandate In RomneyCare

The former Massachusetts Governor said some would "balk" at the idea in 2006.

Posted on March 12, 2012, at 9:59 a.m. ET

Governor Romney signing his health care reform bill into law in 2006.

Governor Romney signing his health care reform bill into law in 2006.

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn't back down from defending the health care law he put into place in Massachusetts, sometimes referred to as RomneyCare. Critics argue that Romney's plan is not conservative, and served as a national model for the health care reform plan signed into law by President Obama in 2010.

But in a 2006 op-ed penned by Romney for the Wall Street Journal, Romney seemed to anticipate conservative criticism for the individual mandate. Some of his "libertarian friends" would not be happy, he wrote:

Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate. But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian.

Further down the op-ed, Romney also argued — as he does now — that reforms should be centered at the state level.
One great thing about federalism is that states can innovate, demonstrate and incorporate ideas from one another. Other states will learn from our experience and improve on what we've done. That's the way we'll make health care work for everyone.

The mandate has an unusual pedigree: It's center-right in its origins, despised both by conservatives who see it as big government intrusion and by liberals (like, in one iteration, Barack Obama) who argue that health care problems should be solved by more government spending, not by punitive fines.

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