Romney: If I'm Elected, I'll Give Obamacare Waivers to All 50 States

By Susan Jones | May 12, 2011 | 9:29 AM EDT

Former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a dinner sponsored by Americans for Prosperity in Manchester, N.H., on April 29, 2011. (AP File Photo/Jim Cole)

( - The United States has "taken a turn for the worse with ObamaCare," says Republican Mitt Romney, who brought a similar health care system to Massachusetts.

"If I am elected president, I will issue on my first day in office an executive order paving the way for waivers from ObamaCare for all 50 states. Subsequently, I will call on Congress to fully repeal ObamaCare," the former Massachusetts governor wrote in a USA Today op-ed published on Thursday.

The op-ed preceded a major campaign speech Romeny plans to deliver in Michigan on Thursday afternoon.

Like Obamacare, Romneycare -- as critics dubbed his Massachusetts plan -- requires individuals to purchase health insurance. Romney's support for such an individual mandate is seen as a major obstacle to his anticipated run for president in 2012.

His Michigan speech is seen as an attempt to address the problem head-on, early in the campaign.

In the USA Today op-ed, Romney advocates "state flexibility" which he contrasts with Obama's top-down federal approach. "I believe the better course is to empower the states to determine their own health care futures," he said.

He emphasized that his plan does not include new taxes and it expands consumer choice.

Romney's five-step health care plan includes the following:

1: Give states the responsibility, flexibility and resources to care for citizens who are poor, uninsured or chronically ill.

2: Reform the tax code to promote the individual ownership of health insurance.

3: Focus federal regulation of health care on making markets work. This means both correcting common failures in insurance markets as well as eliminating counterproductive federal rules.

4: Reform medical liability.

5: Make health care more like a consumer market and less like a government program. This can be done by strengthening health savings accounts.

Democrats have gleefully noted that Romney's Massachusetts plan served as a model for the Democrats' Affordable Care Act.

On Thursday, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said that Romney is "twisting himself into a pretzel" in trying to distance himself from Obamacare.

While he "now supports repeal and replace...What he is trying to do is repeal and erase his own record," Wasserman Schultz said on ABC's "Good Morning America" program Thursday.