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DAVID GREGORY: Joining me now is Governor Romney's successor in Massachusetts, the current governor of Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick. Governor, welcome back to Meet the Press.
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: Good morning, David. How are you?
DAVID GREGORY: Two key points here: How much damage has been done to the Affordable Care Act by the-- you heard Governor Romney describe it as deception, not telling the truth about that people could lose their plans, and the failure for government to administer a program this large because of this failed website rollout?
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: Well, you know, the Affordable Care Act is not a website, David. I think Governor Romney knows that, and the American people know that. It's a values statement, and it does a lot of good for a lot of people. That has already begun; it will continue. The website is imperfect. That will get fixed, I'm confident of that.
The website at home in Massachusetts, when we first started implementing in 2007, was also imperfect. It got fixed. And Governor Romney was right then when he said that, if Massachusetts succeeds in implementing health care reform there, it will be a model for the country, and it has been.
DAVID GREGORY: But here is what President Obama. We take you back to some of the comments he made back in 2009 and 2013, a promise he made, a fundamental promise he made to the American people. Watch.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON TAPE: June 15, 2009: If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. (Applause.) No one will take it away, no matter what.
//September 26, 2013: "So the first thing you need to know is this: If you already have health care, you don't have to do anything."
DAVID GREGORY: So no matter what, "If you like your health care plan, you don't have to do anything." Was that a broken promise, or was that deception, or both?
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: Neither. For 95% of the people in America, that is the truth. For the small number of people who have a health care plan which in fact will not insure them when they get sick, it is not true. And that's the whole point. If you have a preexisting condition, if you have the kind of health care that disappears when you need it most, the Affordable Care Act says that has to end. It's also true that medical costs are number one cause of bankruptcy in America. That ends with the Affordable Care Act.
DAVID GREGORY: 2 million people have been told that they don't have health nurses that they can keep. And then you say, "Well, you can get another plan," except you can't because you can't get on the website. So--
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: Oh, well, that--
DAVID GREGORY: --was this not sold--
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: Excuse me, David. I'm sorry. Finish. I'm sorry.
DAVID GREGORY: Well, no, go ahead and react to that.
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: I'm sorry to have cut you off. That's actually not true. The website is a convenience, and right now it's not working very well, but it's not the only way to get information. You can sign up on the phone, you can do it in person. And in very short order, you'll be able to do it online.
DAVID GREGORY: Well, Governor, wait a second--
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: The obvious benefit of the website is to be able to compare plans, to shop. Because as you shop, you save. And that's why it's urgent that the president get it fixed--
DAVID GREGORY: Well, here's--
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: --as soon as possible.
DAVID GREGORY: --what the Washington Post reports this morning. "The anatomy of this debacle," and it quotes President Obama saying, "The most important part of the health care plan is the exchange that's set up, it's the website that's set up." And he said the following, according to the Washington Post: "All of that is well and good," in other words other things they're doing to get people enrolled, "but if the website doesn't work, nothing else matters." And yet you're saying this morning that the website is not health care, it's just a website.
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: If the website is permanently flawed, we've got a serious problem. But we've got a rollout problem. It's been, what, three or four weeks? It took us two years to get our website right in Massachusetts, and now we have virtually universal coverage. 90% of our residents have a primary care physician. We are healthier. It has not broken the budget. More businesses offer insurance to their employees than ever before, one of the highest levels in the country. And it is approved by 84% of our population.
I think that what this whole situation has produced is actually a favor for the White House and for the president. I and many others have been saying the president needs to be out talking about the fundamental good that the Affordable Care Act does for people, and this is provoking him to do so. And I think that's a great thing.
DAVID GREGORY: Well, I'm not sure if he appreciates the lesson. But let me ask you this final point. This is critical, it seems to me. How do you know, how can you ensure that people, young people who don't feel they need health insurance, are ultimately going to sign up to get the health insurance? And if that doesn't happen, this model doesn't work nationally.
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: You know what, that's a key issue, and it was for us in Massachusetts, the so-called invincibles, those young, healthy, mostly men who are in fact free riders. And there are some 30 million free riders in the United States, people who get health care but don't contribute to the system, and the rest of us pay for it in our premiums and in taxes.
And the mandate requires a basic principle of insurance, basically, which is that everybody gets insurance so you spread the risk as broadly as possible, and you begin to bring costs down. That's what's happened in Massachusetts, and in time that's what will happen for the nation.
DAVID GREGORY: But that's a big if, right? On the national level, that's still a big if.
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: Actually, it's not such a big if. We've got experience in Massachusetts, and it's been shown to be not only wildly successful but wildly popular. And if we're going to have states be laboratories of democracy, let's not have good ideas stuck in the lab, let's scale them. And that's exactly what the Affordable Care Act does.
DAVID GREGORY: All right, Governor Deval Patrick, thank you very much. I appreciate your time this morning.
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK: Thanks David.
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