The inside story: How Romney got RomneyCare passed

“Overall, it was a positive approach,’’ Romney said in a Globe interview for this story. “I’m proud of the fact we took on a real tough problem and moved the ball forward.’’

“I know this is going to get a lot of conversation,’’ he said, “but the health of the people in Massachusetts is more important to me than the health of my political prospects.’’

During a 51-minute interview, he used a variation of that line three times…

The first step was finding a way to make the 37 percent who could afford insurance but didn’t have it buy in. Romney’s answer came in part from an administration consultant, Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a leading adviser, usually to Democrats, on health care reform issues…

“What my numbers showed is that it made enormous sense to have the individual mandate,’’ Gruber recalled. Without it, the money available for new insurance subsidies would cover half as many people.

“Romney was intrigued with it because of the personal responsibility aspects,’’ said Gruber, recalling his one meeting with the governor. And if younger, healthier people were coaxed into the system, the cost of premiums would moderate for a larger population.