Likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the former governor of liberal Massachusetts, could be looking at trouble ahead from tea party activists in 2012. Amy Kremer, president of the influential Tea Party Express, says the health law Romney signed when he was governor will "absolutely not" be acceptable to the movement.
Kremer made the comment to David Brody
of Christian Broadcasting Network. When Brody asked her if the "Massachusetts healthcare situation" will fly with the tea party movement, she responded, "Absolutely not. I'm being honest here." She added that "the days of people being able to do one thing in their state in front of a microphone, and then going to Washington and doing something else" are over: "The Internet, and 24-hour news cycles changed it all, and these people don't have short memories, they're digging up everything from the past, and they're not going to let go of the health care."
Romney promoted and signed a bill that is similar to the new federal health law in some key respects, including a requirement that everyone buy coverage, subsidies to help low-income people afford the policies, and online exchanges or marketplaces where people can comparison-shop for policies. Democrats have said it served as a model for the bill President Obama signed.
More than 50 million Americans are uncovered. Under the new federal law, an additional 32 million people are projected to have health insurance by 2019. The law also tightens regulation of insurance companies, adds consumer protections and projects a range of savings as a result of, among other things, curbing Medicare growth, coordinating care and offering incentives for better care.
Republicans campaigned this year in part on pledges to repeal "Obamacare," which they called a symbol of big government run amok. Romney and other conservatives initially pitched the purchase requirement as a matter of people taking personal responsibility for health expenses rather than expecting others to foot the bill for care they receive but can't afford. He has said he supports the right of states to do what's right for them and opposes the federal law because it imposes the same system on all states.
More than 97 percent of Massachusetts residents have health insurance
, much better than the national rate
of about 85 percent. And the system is popular
-- a poll last year found that residents of the state support it by a 2-to-1 margin.
The Tea Party Express poured money into Republican primaries and played a key role in the Senate nominations of Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. Both went on to lose.
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