Although a Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich expressed his critical attitude of the changes to the Massachusetts health care system, suggested by Mitt Romney, Gingrich praised the law soon after it was passed, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The most exciting development of the past few weeks is what has been happening up in Massachusetts. 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.”
He added: “While the Commonwealth’s plan will naturally endure tremendous scrutiny from those who assert that the law will not work as intended, Massachusetts leaders are to be commended for this bipartisan proposal to tackle the enormous challenge of finding real solutions for creating a sustainable health system.”
Mr. Gingrich even offered a prescient observation: “I hope that Massachusetts’ initiative to provide affordable, quality health insurance for all continues to ignite even more debate around the subject of how to best address our nation’s uninsured crisis and the critical problems within the health system at large.”
Actually, Gingrich has criticized this health care law after having become a presidential candidate. In an Oct. 18 debate, he told Romney, “Your plan essentially is one more big-government, bureaucratic high-cost system.”
He kept talking: “There’s a lot of big government behind Romneycare – not as much as Obamacare – but a heck of a lot more than your campaign is admitting.”
By the way, Gingrich was also asked about his past support for an individual health care mandate, denied by conservatives, reports The Huff Post.
The candidate’s spokesman R.C. Hammond stated Gingrich’s past support of the mandate as an ‘old news.’ He added that the newsletter was not written by the Gingrich and it should it is considered to be an endorsement of the plan.
“Newt previously supported a mandate for health insurance and changed his mind after seeing its effects,” he responded. “The real question is why Mitt the Massachusetts Moderate won’t admit that health insurance mandates don’t work.”
Hammond added that Gingrich is ‘more than willing’ to discuss the health reforms with Romney in a one-on-one debate in Iowa which is to be held this week.
Commenting on the newsletter, Romney said: “I’m familiar with the fact that [Gingrich] supported individual mandates in the past and was supportive of generally of the plan in Massachusetts, and he’s changed his view in the election year.”
Mr. Romney revealed that he hadn’t read the newsletter before. “The newsletter critiqued several of Governor Romney’s reforms and offered ways to improve I”, he said. “Offering constructive criticism is not an endorsement.”
When asked about Gingrich’s support the individual mandate, Mr. Romney responded that it’s a conservative concept. “Don’t forget, this health care plan was something we learned about from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank,” Romney told reporters. “Even Newt Gingrich supported the idea of an individual mandate, insisting on personal responsibility.”
The attacks can affect Gingrich’s standing in the polls. After holding a strong position in national polls some weeks ago, a national CBS News poll released on December, 20th showed Gingrich now following Romney. In Iowa, the candidate is at the third place behind Romney and Ron Paul.