On The Issues: Health Care

When then-governor Mitt Romney signed the Massachusetts Healthcare Reform Bill in 2006, he could not have imagined it would become a critical factor in the 2012 presidential race.

Because the Massachusetts bill was a model when President Obama signed the National Affordable Health Care Act in 2010.

According to the president, his healthcare plan will extend insurance to 34 million Americans; guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions; and make healthcare "more affordable." As in Massachusetts–it also includes an individual mandate requiring everyone to get insurance:

The president celebrated:

"Today, after all the votes have been tallied…health reform becomes law in America.”

But Romney didn't clap; he criticized:

"Obamacare is a job killer. Businesses across the country have been asked what the impact is of Obamacare. Three quarters of those surveyed by the chamber of commerce said Obamacare makes it less likely for them to hire people."

Romney says he can fix the nation's healthcare problems by promoting free markets and fair competition, and empowering consumer choice, which he believes will increase quality and lower cost.

Most important: Romney wants states, not Washington, to design health care plans, and he says the president's plan will cost a trillion dollars more than Obama says it will.

But the president counters that his bill will reduce the deficit by $127 billion by 2021, and save the average family $2,000 a year by 2019.

Who knows who's right? They're both guessing.

The president is sticking by his plan…

"In America, the wealthiest nation on earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin."

And Romney is offering a promise:

"We must rein in the skyrocketing cost of healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare."

To anyone who says, "sure healthcare is important, but this election is about the economy," I'd say don't forget: healthcare is about one-sixth of the economy.