First in a series on Mitt Romney and the Massachusetts health care overhaul.
In late spring 2005, Mitt Romney gathered with a dozen top policy and political advisers in a conference room near the governor’s suite on the third floor of the State House.
For two years, they had grappled with the abstruse complexities of health care reform, sifting data, evaluating input from experts, and testing theories to craft a plan that would expand coverage to nearly everyone in the state and not break the bank.
This was a bold move for a first-term Republican governor, some of whose more conservative advisers doubted the wisdom of a foray deep into policy turf long dominated by Democrats. One privately called the idea Dukakis II, a reference to the 1988 Democratic-led effort by Governor Michael S. Dukakis to phase in near-universal coverage - even though Romney’s approach was fundamentally different.
But Romney was resolute in pushing forward. And on the table this day was a critical decision that would, in many ways, define the plan, and also Romney’s political ambitions, wherever they would lead him.
The question: Should adults with sufficient income be required to buy basic health insurance or pay a penalty if they refuse?
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