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FACT CHECK: Santorum Half Right on Obamacare and Romneycare

Rick Santorum aggressively went after Mitt Romney on Thursday night for the health care plan he enacted in Massachusetts that Santorum said was too similar to “Obamacare,” as it is derisively known among conservatives, for Romney to credibly go toe-to-toe against the president in the fall.

The similarities between the Massachusetts plan and the national reform law have been well-documented. PolitiFact notes that both include an individual mandate, health care exchanges, affordability subsidies, expansion of Medicaid, and insurance market regulation, among other similar measures, although details do differ.

Regarding Santorum’s criticisms of high health care costs and unreasonable waiting times in Massachusetts as a result of the health care plan enacted by Romney, the nonpartisan FactCheck.org has already found those claims shaky at best. Costs for the plan had initially increased more than expected, but have lately come in line with projections by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. PolitiFact has ruled false a super PAC’s ad claim that the Romney law sent health costs spiraling.

Factcheck.org also reported that 62 percent of doctors have said that waiting times have remained the same.

Finally, approval for the law is high, standing at 67 percent, and 98 percent of state residents now have insurance, poking holes in Santorum’s claim that people would rather pay a fine rather than purchase health insurance.

Santorum also accused of Newt Gingrich of supporting an individual mandate for 20 years. Indeed, PolitiFact found multiple instances beginning in 1993 of Gingrich voicing support for an individual mandate or posting a bond for future care (a similar idea that holds individuals responsible for paying for their own care).

By Naureen Khan