Obama’s Solicitor General Donald Verrilli ties health care law directly to ‘Romneycare’

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The Obama administration's top lawyer told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the health reforms Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts helped inspire the president's controversial health care overhaul—that Romneycare shaped Obamacare.

With the law's fate in the balance, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli told the nine justices that the individual mandate—the requirement that people have health insurance or pay a penalty—was constitutional and slapped down other options such as requiring that individuals buy insurance when they go to get health care.

"That will never work. Congress understood that. It chose the means that will work, the means that it saw worked in the states, and in the state of Massachusetts, and that it had every reason to think would work on a national basis," Verrilli said as he wrapped up his arguments on the second of three days of Supreme Court hearings on the law.

Republican anger over "Obamacare"—initially a term of derision that the administration has now adopted in the hopes of defanging it—often boils over on the campaign trail, where the candidates have assailed it as government overreach. But the links between the president's law and Romney's own overhaul have been something of a headache for the former Massachusetts governor.

Both laws are built on the individual mandate, something former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum never tires of reminding voters about.

Romney has defended his approach by saying he did right by Massachusetts but does not believe in a "one-size-fits-all" approach that would impose the mandate nationwide.

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