Addressing an audience composed mainly of medical students and professionals at Des Moines University on Tuesday, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney delivered a detailed policy speech on health care. Along the campaign trail, Romney often demonstrates a firm grasp on the nuances of the issue, but this speech provided something new: a prediction that it would take no more than four years to get every American insured under his plan.
"I just want to underscore something — we can get everybody in this country insured," Romney said. "My plan is designed to get everybody in this country insured. My estimate is that from the time you would put in place this program—pass the legislation necessary to put in place this program — within four years every American would be insured."
One of Romney's signature achievements as Massachusetts governor was to push through a health care reform bill that required everyone in the state to have health insurance or face fines. Romney says that while he is proud of the plan he enacted in his state, he wants to take a federalist approach to the issue that would get more Americans covered with private insurance, rather than reverting to an expanded government program.
Romney said Republicans need to work with Democrats on this issue and cited his unlikely partnership with Sen. Ted Kennedy, which he attributed to helping get the reform bill through in Massachusetts.
"I thought Ted Kennedy had the best line of the day," Romney said. "He said, 'When Mitt Romney and Ted Kennedy are celebrating the same bill it proves only one thing: One of us didn't read it.'"
Speaking with reporters after the speech, Romney was asked about Bill Clinton's recent attempt to shift blame away from Hillary Clinton and to himself for his administration's failed 1993 health care reform bill.
"My approach is based on the free enterprise system and personal responsibility — hers is based on government," Romney said. "And you know, it's very nice for President Clinton to try to take the blame for things that happened in the past, but she's the one running for president now, not him, and she's going to have to stand up and defend Hillary-care Version 1.0 and Version 2.0."