Haley Barbour slams "RomneyCare" at health care hearing

Gov. Haley Barbour speaks at a meeting of the Mississippi Energy Policy Institute in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011. Barbour says the Gulf Coast oil spill occurred because the companies involved deviated from industry standards, not because of the inherent risk of drilling offshore. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour hit Mitt Romney's so-called "RomneyCare" health care plan on Tuesday, arguing that the legislation - which Romney enacted while serving as the governor of Massachusetts - might work for some states, but it wouldn't work for his.

"Massachusetts has a state health insurance program that they're happy with," said Barbour, a Republican, at a hearing on health care reform before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday. "And that's their right."

Barbour continued, "We don't want that. That's not good for us...We don't want community rating. We don't want extremely high mandatory standard benefits packages."

"Different states have different problems," he said. "We have different ideas."

Romney, like Barbour a potential GOP presidential contender for 2012, has in recent months become the target of extensive criticism over the health care plan he passed while governor of Massachusetts -- particularly as the matter has increasingly become one of the most contentious issues in American political discourse.

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Members of the Obama administration have pointedly said in the past they used "some good ideas" from Romney's health care legislation when formulating their own bill - and President Obama on Monday went out of his way to praise Romney for his plan.

Romney has said in interviews he is "not apologizing" for the legislation and has called for the repeal of Mr. Obama's health care bill - but many believe the matter could end up being a major political liability for his prospects in presidential race, were he to enter the fray.

Indeed, rhetoric surrounding the issue remains heated.

At the hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, called the federal law's mandates "onerous and unsustainable."

"Nearly one year after the president signed the health care package into law, we are still finding more costly consequences," he said in a prepared statement.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) argued alternately that states enjoy "considerable flexibility in the management and design" of Medicaid, and described Republicans' proposed amendments to the reform package "radical changes that will add to the number of uninsured," Bloomberg reports.

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