Texas Governor Rick Perry said on Thursday that the state health care law Mitt Romney signed during his time as governor of Massachusetts "is a huge problem for him." The two men are among the top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination.
“Mitt is finally recognizing that the Massachusetts health care plan that he passed is a huge problem for him,” Perry said on conservative radio host Laura Ingraham's show, according to The Austin American-Statesman. “And yeah, it was not almost perfect. I truly believe that you have to have the free-market in play with our health care. I think Obamacare, which was modeled after the Massachusetts plan, is an absolute debacle.”
Perry also said that he hopes the Supreme Court will rule before the 2012 election on the individual mandate included in the federal health care law. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the individual mandate exceeds Congress' commerce clause powers, even after the Sixth Circuit court upheld the mandate in a previous ruling.
“I’m a big believer that the answer to our health care issues in this country can be found in the states, block-granting and substantially reducing the total amount of dollars back to the states and allowing them to come up with the ways to deliver health care, come up with the innovative approaches, the menu of ways to choose what kind of health care," Perry said.
The American-Statesman reports that Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country.
According to The Hill newspaper, the Massachusetts health care law is seen as one of Romney's largest political liabilities, "one he tried to put behind him with a May speech in Ann Arbor, where he embraced the plan, including its individual mandate." When he was still in the race, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty used the term "ObamneyCare" to try to lump Romney's law in with the one signed by President Barack Obama.
In a poll released Wednesday, Gallup found Perry leading the field of Republican contenders. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide told Gallup they are most likely to support Perry, putting him well ahead of Romney, who attracted 17 percent. Gallup polls in May, June and July each had Romney in first place.