WASHINGTON - Mitt Romney accused President Obama on Sunday of lying to Americans about whether they could keep their health insurance, suggesting the Affordable Care Act is undermining his former rival's second White House term.
In an appearance Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee criticized Obama's repeated assertion while the legislation was being debated in Congress that people would get to keep their health care plan.
"He wasn't telling the truth," Romney said. "I think that fundamental dishonesty really puts in peril the foundation of his whole second term."
The Obama administration has stressed in recent days that people who lose their health care coverage - because their existing plan does not meet minimum standards under the federal law - will be able to get better insurance coverage as required by the Affordable Care Act.
Romney also rejected comparisons Obama has made between problems with the national law and its dysfunctional website, HealthCare.gov, and the Massachusetts plan and its initial enrollment challenges. If he won the 2012 election, Romney said, he would have given states more flexibility.
"My own plan was to say to each state, you've got a requirement to move to a point where all your people are insured and you cover pre-existing conditions," he said on NBC. "We're going to give you flexbility from the federal government level to help you be able to do so."
As he did throughout the presidential campaign, current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick rebuffed Romney's claims in his own interview on Meet the Press. Patrick, a close Obama friend who is not running for re-election next year, said Romney himself had noted that the Massachusetts health law would be a model for the rest of the country.
Patrick said only a "small number" of people are receiving cancellation notices about their health insurance. "If you have the kind of health care that disappears when you need it the most, the Affordable Care Act says that has to end," the governor said.
As for HealthCare.gov's myriad technical issues, Patrick described the website as a "convenience" that when working will allow consumers to comparison shop among insurance plans. "That's why it is urgent that the president get it fixed," he said.
Sunday's interview was a follow-up to Romney's critique of Obama and the Affordable Care Act that the former Massachusetts governor posted on Facebook last week. That statement was a pre-emptive strike on Obama's speech in Boston, in which the president argued that the Massachusetts law had similar problems before state residents embraced it fully.
The Massachusetts health care law was perceived as an early problem for Romney in his presidential bid last year - something that he would have had to explain lest it became a defining issue in the GOP primary. In a speech in May 2011 at the University of Michigan Medical Center, Romney sought to defuse comparisons between the Massachusetts law and the Affordable Care Act calling the Bay State version "a state solution to a state problem."
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