I have had the privilege of interviewing both President Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney about health care reform. I say “privilege” because I found them both to be well-informed and deeply concerned about needed changes in American health care. And as many have observed, I also found the two key elements in each of their plans — mandated insurance and insurance exchanges to make choices easier — to be almost identical in concept.
However, given that the presidential campaign is very much about the role of the federal government in our lives, it is not surprising that there is a huge difference between them in terms of that role in health care — as was clear in the first of the presidential debates. Today, Romney tries to distance himself from the strong government role in his Massachusetts plan with a states’ rights mantra: His plan was good for his state then, but every state should develop its own plan. But when it comes to “life and death” sectors in our economy, it may be that states’ rights can be dangerous, even fatal.