WASHINGTON - A proposal by Mitt Romney to curtail Medicaid spending would dramatically undercut the way the Massachusetts health care overhaul law has achieved near universal coverage.
Although the specifics of Romney’s plan are not public, his overall intent - to rein in how much Medicaid money Washington sends to the states - would probably cripple the Massachusetts health care law, which was made possible by an expansion of Medicaid funding.
If Romney succeeds, the result could have an ironic twist: the governor who ushered in the country’s first universal health plan would, as president, put in place policies that could undermine one of his signature achievements.
“It would have been impossible for Massachusetts to do what it did without increased federal Medicaid support,’’ said John McDonough, a major architect of the state’s health care overhaul law and now director of Harvard University’s Center for Public Health Leadership.
As governor, Romney worked closely with the late Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy to secure hundreds of millions per year in federal aid to realize their shared goal of access to health care for all. Expanding Medicaid coverage - and the flow of federal money that came with it - was a key underpinning of the state’s 2006 law.
US Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee whose budget Romney has enthusiastically endorsed, has proposed a block grant tied to massive cuts in federal Medicaid expenditures.