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Romney Adviser Backs Key Health Care Overhaul Provision

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney laughs during a campaign stop at a hardware store in Derry, N.H., June 14. (AP)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, a top supporter and adviser of Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney, strenuously backed the core piece of President Barack Obama's health-care law and urged the states to move forward together in adopting health insurance exchanges. 

Speaking to a bipartisan group of governors at the National Governors Association, the former Republican governor who served as secretary of health and human services in the Bush administration, called the exchanges where individuals and small businesses can purchase health plans "a very practical solution to a problem that needs to be solved." He warned governors who are reluctant to move forward with their state-level exchanges that their intransigence will only empower federal regulators. 

And he said the health care law that passed is a compromise that gives the states the flexibility they need. 

"This is a profoundly important time for the states," said Mr. Leavitt. "States need to lead." 

The comments came at a time when every major Republican presidential candidate has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the president's health care law. For former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, the issue is extra sensitive: the health care plan he secured for Massachusetts included an exchange almost identical to the federal law. He has tried to tightrope through the issue, blasting the federal law as he defends his own. 

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