Mitt Romney has tried to accomplish two tasks in his debate performances — defend his health-care overhaul in Massachusetts known as MassCare but often called RomneyCare, and tout his record as a governor whose policies fostered job creation in the state.  A new study by a conservative think tank at Suffolk University will complicate both strategies.  According to the Boston Herald, the study shows that MassCare cost the state more than 18,000 jobs since its enactment:

The Bay State’s controversial 2006 universal health-care plan — also known as “Romneycare” — has cost Massachusetts more than 18,000 jobs, according to an exclusive blockbuster study that could provide ammo to GOP rivals of former Gov. Mitt Romney as he touts his job-creating chops on the campaign trail.

“Mandating health insurance coverage and expanding the demand for health services without increasing supply drove up costs. Economics 101 tells us that,” said Paul Bachman, research director at Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute, the conservative think tank that conducted the study. The Herald obtained an exclusive copy of the findings.

“The ‘shared sacrifice’ needed to provide universal health care includes a net loss of jobs, which is attributable to the higher costs that the measure imposed,” said David Tuerck, the institute’s executive director.

It’s not the only cost imposed on Massachusetts, either.  The study claims that MassCare increased health insurance costs by over $4.3 billion dollars and kept more than a quarter-billion dollars of outside investment from taking place over the last five years.  Moreover, the Beacon Hill Institute disagrees with Romney that there are significant differences between the system he signed into law and the one Obama signed into law on the national level:

“We think it’s very pertinent and very similar to the health-care law that was passed nationally — it’s a case study,” Bachman said. “This is what happened in Massachusetts, and this is what can be expected from the national health-care act.”

Costs didn’t just escalate for Massachusetts residents and businesses, either.  The study concludes that the federal government “heavily subsidized” the costs of MassCare through “billions of dollars” in Medicaid waivers.

Romney has tried to sell this plan as a cost-containment measure that didn’t provide a template for ObamaCare.  This study undermines both arguments, and makes the case that Romney’s signature achievement as governor ended up looking something like the outcome from Obama’s – higher costs and fewer jobs.  It will be interesting to see how Romney defends this in the next debate, which may well become the kind of pile-on for him that we saw on Perry Monday after the release of this report.  Romney has a week to prepare a rebuttal, though, and he won’t come into the debate unprepared.