Here's a first look at Mitt Romney's health care policy advisory council. It's a mix of experienced legislators, regulators and policy experts -- and several close aides who helped Romney compose and execute his pioneering, layered health insurance reforms in Massachusetts.
The co-chairs of Romney's council of advisers are Rep. Tom Price, an Atlanta surgeon, and Tim Murphy, Romney's health and human services secretary in Massachusetts and how a private consultant.
Other members include:
- Rep. Phil Gingrey, an OBGYN.
- Hoover institute health care guru John Cogan, a conservative domestic policy expert with an extensive pedigree.
- Ex Bush admin. CEA chair Glenn Hubbard, now Dean of the Columbia Business School.
- Cindy Gillespie, a close Romney aide who was key to the legislative success of the Massachusetts plan.
On Friday, Romney will use an address before the American Medical Association in Florida to formally outline his health care plan. Romney is expected to argue that the federal government's role ought to be give states maximum latitude to tailor health care plans -- and that only free-market principles can satisfy the goal of ensuring access to affordable, portable and quality private health insurance. One source says Romney will use Powerpoint to illustrate his contentions.
Romney's rivals often suggest that he shies away from bragging about his Massachusetts plan, which he signed as a proud Ted Kennedy looked on; that he simplifies it; that he downplays the government's role in paying for much of it. Maybe. Romney doesn't always talk about health care unprompted, but when he's asked, he describes his plan as one of his biggest accomplishments. (He includes a caveat that the state legislature changed the plan Romney initially signed.)
The success of the plan -- or its failure -- will not really be known until the height of the primary season. Earlier this summer, the plan's requirement that most all citizens purchase insurance kicked in. So far, so good. And Romney's speech on Friday signals he's more than willing to debate its merits -- provided that he makes sure his audience knows that under a Romney presidency, other states could come up with very different mechanisms to reach Romney's stated goals.
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