In 2006, Newt Gingrich's Center for Health Transformation published a "Newt Note" on Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health care plan. "The most exciting development of the past few weeks is what has been happening up in Massachusetts," the note began. "The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system."
We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100% insurance coverage for all Americans. Individuals without coverage often do not receive quality medical attention on par with those who do have insurance. We also believe strongly that personal responsibility is vital to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System. Individuals who can afford to purchase health insurance and simply choose not to place an unnecessary burden on a system that is on the verge of collapse; these free-riders undermine the entire health system by placing the onus of responsibility on taxpayers.
The Romney plan attempts to bring everyone into the system. The individual mandate requires those who earn enough to afford insurance to purchase coverage, and subsidies will be made available to those individuals who cannot afford insurance on their own. We agree strongly with this principle, but the details are crucial when it comes to the structure of this plan.
The note, which would seem to be written (or at least approved) by Gingrich himself, also warned about some of the problems in the Massachusetts plan. "While in theory the plan should be affordable if the whole state contributes to the cost, the reality is that Massachusetts has an exhaustive list of health coverage regulations prohibiting insurers from offering more basic, pared-down policies with higher deductibles," said the Newt Note.
How has Gingrich responded? The Wall Street Journal reports:
R.C. Hammond, a spokesman for Mr. Gingrich, said the April 2006 essay shouldn't be read as an endorsement of Mr. Romney's health plan. He noted that it raised several questions about the Massachusetts effort, including whether the plan would work in the state. "Being critical…isn't endorsing it," he said.
Mr. Hammond said the Newt Notes essay wasn't written by Mr. Gingrich himself.