As part of his public campaign to repeal President Obama’s health care law, Mitt Romney is pushing “Issue 3” in Ohio this week, a referendum banning mandates. But in addition to trying to block Democrats’ health care law, the proposal would also outlaw the very same kind of state-level health care law that Romney considers one of his proudest achievements in Massachusetts.
If passed, the referendum would add an amendment to the state’s Constitution stating that “no federal, state or local law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer or health care provider to participate in a health care system.”
The move is billed by supporters as a protest against the Affordable Care Act, but the legality of a federal mandate is in the Supreme Court’s hands, not Ohio’s. State mandates are another story, however, and Issue 3 would legally prevent the Ohio legislature from passing anything resembling Massachusetts’ health care law, which included a requirement that individuals purchase insurance.
“Ultimately, the bill that we passed was a bill that said either have insurance or we’re going to charge you for the cost of the fact that the state is going to have to cover you if you get seriously ill,” Romney said in a speech explaining the law’s use of a mandate in May.
A spokesman for Romney did not immediately return a request for comment.
Ohio Republicans seem happy enough to accept his support in blocking Massachusetts-style health care.
“We’re glad to have Gov. Romney’s help,” state GOP chairman Kevin DeWine told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday. “Our volunteers have been working very hard on these issues, and the governor is coming to thank them.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.