Mitt Romney has been hitting his key opponent, Rick Perry, relentlessly for his decision to allow undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition in Texas. Romney even made the issue into a campaign ad:
The former Massachusetts governor has stated that the educational benefits offered by the state of Texas act as an incentive to draw more undocumented immigrants across the border:
“You put in place a magnet — you talk about magnets — you put in place a magnet to draw illegals into the state, which is giving $100,000 of tuition credit to illegals that come into this country. And then you have states, the big states of illegal immigrants are California and Florida. Over the last 10 years, they’ve had no increase in illegal immigration. Texas has had 60 percent increase in illegal immigrants.”
Now we learn, via the LA Times, that the healthcare reform that Governor Romney ushered in during his tenure in Massachusetts, colloquially referred to as RomneyCare, contained a provision that provided public aid to undocumented immigrants:
The Massachusetts healthcare law that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed in 2006 includes a program known as the Health Safety Net, which allows undocumented immigrants to get needed medical care along with others who lack insurance.
Uninsured, poor immigrants can walk into a health clinic or hospital in the state and get publicly subsidized care at virtually no cost to them, regardless of their immigration status.
The Massachusetts health care plan has been a weight around the neck of the former governor throughout the 2012 GOP race primarily for the individual mandate that forces individuals to purchase insurance or pay a fine – the same measure that makes Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act so reviled among constitutionalists and limited governmental activists. Recently, NBC revealed that some of Governor Romney’s very own advisors helped to craft the federal plan, linking it ever more closely with the Massachusetts plan, much to Romney’s chagrin and despite his attempts to mold a schism between the two. Now comes the revelation of yet another piece of the legislation that once again paints Romney as a hypocrite. One must wonder how the governor will respond to criticisms that this sort of public aid serves as a “magnet to draw illegals into the state.”
The day prior to signing the Massachussets healthcare plan into law, Romney penned an article in the Wall Street Journal in which he derided the “free-rider problem” and attempted to explain how the individual mandate included in his plan would solve it:
Another 40% of the uninsured were earning enough to buy insurance but had chosen not to do so. Why? Because it is expensive and because they know that if they become seriously ill, they will get free or subsidized treatment at the hospital. By law, emergency care cannot be withheld. Why pay for something you can get for free?
Of course, while it may be free for them, everyone else ends up paying the bill, either in higher insurance premiums or taxes. The solution we came up with was to make private health insurance much more affordable. Insurance reforms now permit policies with higher deductibles, higher co-pays, coinsurance, provider networks and fewer mandated benefits like in vitro fertilization — and our insurers have committed to offer products nearly 50% less expensive. With private insurance finally affordable, I proposed that everyone must either purchase a product of their choice or demonstrate that they can pay for their own health care. It’s a personal responsibility principle.
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.
I couldn’t agree more, Governor.