By Kevin Liptak, CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate who has long pledged to repeal President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care law if elected president, said Thursday the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the law did not signal the measure was good for the American people.
“Let’s make clear that we understand what the court did and did not do,” Romney said. “What the court did do today is say that Obamacare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do is to say that Obamacare is good law or that it is good policy. Obamacare was bad policy yesterday. It’s bad policy today. Obamacare was a bad law yesterday. It is bad law today.”
Romney stressed the Supreme Court ruling, which said the individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance is valid as a tax, even though it is impermissible under the Constitution’s commerce clause, did not change his basic feelings toward the law.
“What the Court did not do on the last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States, and that is that I will act to repeal Obamacare,” Romney said in a statement approximately two hours after the ruling was handed down.
Explaining his opposition to Obama’s health law, Romney cited figures showing the Affordable Care Act reduced funding to other government-sponsored programs.
“Obama care cuts Medicare — cuts Medicare — by approximately $500 billion. And even with those cuts and tax increases, Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt,” Romney said.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which reviewed the Senate version of the health-care law that eventually passed in 2010, the law will wring $492 billion from the projected future costs of Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years. The AARP found the legislation would not cut benefits or increase out-of-pocket costs for Medicare, the federal health-care program for Americans over 65. But Republicans argue that there’s no way to cut future costs that much without reducing services. The CBO found it was “unclear” whether the Senate bill could reduce the growth of Medicare spending without reducing care.
Romney, who learned of the Court ruling in his hotel room at the Washington Hilton, made his statement ahead of a campaign event in Washington with the U.S. Capitol as his backdrop. He used his public remarks on the court’s landmark decision to assail his Democratic opponent and present himself as an alternative.
“Our mission is clear: If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we have to replace President Obama,” Romney said.
While he struck a resolute tone Thursday, Romney’s move forward on health care will be lined with political pitfalls. Many of the law’s provisions are popular among Americans, including allowing adult children to remain on their parents’ health care plans until the age of 26, and disallowing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions.
Despite his pledge to repeal Obamacare, Romney has promised to continue some of the law’s protections for consumers. He said Thursday he would maintain the ban on preventing care based on pre-existing conditions, saying such consumers “will be able to be insured and they will not lose their insurance.”
Romney’s history on health care legislation also complicates his political message on the subject. As voters learned during the blistering Republican primary process, the president fashioned much of his law by borrowing heavily from the reform plan signed into law by Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts six years ago. The centerpiece of the Massachusetts plan is its own mandate.
In an interview with CNN in 2009, Romney touted the mandate as a free market alternative to the president’s original plan that offered Americans the option to buy into a government insurance plan. That so-called “public option” was later dropped from the law.
“I think there are a number of features in the Massachusetts plan that could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans,” Romney told CNN in 2009. “The fact that we were able to get people insured without a government option is a model I think they can learn from.”
Romney has since said on numerous occasions his plan was meant for Massachusetts only.
“Our plan was a state solution to a state problem, and his plan is a power grab by the federal government to put a one-size-fits-all plan across the nation,” Romney said in a speech in the weeks before he jumped into the race last year.
Following the court’s decision to uphold Obama’s health care law, Romney press secretary Saul wrote on Twitter that Romney’s campaign had raised $300,000 in campaign cash, using the Republicans’ hashtag for Supreme Court-related reaction, #FullRepeal.
— CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta contributed to this report.