METAIRIE, La. — Mitt Romney on Friday called President Barack Obama's signature health care law an "unfolding disaster" and said he would replace it by giving Medicaid money to states and changing the tax code to encourage people to buy insurance.
Standing in front of signs that read, "Repeal & Replace ObamaCare," Romney told Louisiana voters the health law represented "one more example of a president pursuing his attack on economic and personal liberty."
In attacking the law days before Supreme Court arguments over its constitutionality, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination also confronted an issue that has plagued him. Romney also published an opinion piece in USA Today outlining his positions, and announced a new health care team.
The White House released a report Friday defending the overhaul. In a written statement, Obama said the law "has made a difference for millions of Americans, and over time, it will help give even more working and middle-class families the security they deserve."
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a health care law that required everyone in the state to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. It's a state version of the national mandate that is the centerpiece of Obama's overhaul — an idea that conservatives oppose as an example of government overreach.
"President Obama's program is an unfolding disaster for the American economy, a budget-busting entitlement, and a dramatic new federal intrusion into our lives," Romney wrote in the opinion piece published Friday.
Conservatives are skeptical of Romney's record on health care because of the version of the law he signed as governor. Democrats say the Massachusetts law, which opponents have dubbed "Romneycare," was a model for the national overhaul Obama signed into law two years ago Friday.
In a landmark case, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over the federal law's constitutionality for three days starting Monday. Among other options, the justices could uphold the law, strike it down completely or get rid of some provisions.