With Embrace of Israeli Socialized Medicine, Romney Completes Rare “Full Monty” Of Health Care Positions

Bill Scher

At yesterday’s Jerusalem fundraiser, Mitt Romney praised Israel’s single-payer, government-run health care system as better than America’s. The NY Times quoted Romney as saying:

You spend eight percent of G.D.P. on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our G.D.P. on health care, 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, compare that with the size of our military — our military which is 4 percent, 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of G.D.P. We have to find ways — not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.

After I noted Romney’s hypocritical statement on Twitter this morning, Buzzfeed, Talking Points Memo and The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn have weighed with details of how extensively government-run the Israeli system is.

This has always been the argument for single-payer: that the experience of other countries proves that single-payer systems save money while covering more people.

Now that it has come from Romney’s mouth: Romney has achieved the Full Monty of health care positions.

He’s against “government takeover” of healthcare. From 1994: “I do not believe in a government takeover of the health care system…”

He’s for the individual mandate. From 2010: “…expecting people who can afford to buy insurance to do so is consistent with personal responsibility, and that’s a cornerstone of conservatism.”

He’s against the “ObamaCare” individual mandate, since it’s a government takeover. From 2012: “‘ObamaCare’ takes over health care for the American people. If I’m president of the United States, I will stop it … It was bad medicine, it’s bad for the economy, and I will repeal it.”

And now he’s for the Israeli government takeover of health care: “You spend eight percent of G.D.P. on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our G.D.P. on health care, 10 percentage points more.”

This begs many questions that reporters should press Romney on.

* Has Mitt Romney always believed that government-run health care systems were more cost-efficient? Or did he just learn about how well the Israeli system worked upon his visit?

* Is it now Mitt Romney’s view that the “ObamaCare” approach of relying on private insurers and providing states with regulatory flexibility fails to fully take over the health care system, and we should instead import the Israeli model?

* Does Mitt Romney support Vermont’s plan to receive a federal waiver allowing it to pursue its own single-payer system?

* Or is it the case that Romney has no fixed position on health care, allowing him to shamelessly pander to whatever crowd he is in front of?

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