If Monday night’s GOP presidential debate is any indication, Romneycare may not be the liability it once was for Mitt Romney. The former Bay State governor took fewer punches on the issue than before and seemed to have absorbed most of the blows…

Romney’s defense, regardless of its merits, is more fluid than it was. The candidate, often criticized for his rigidity, has become more comfortable in discussing what is arguably his biggest weakness in the Republican primary. “The people of Massachusetts favor our plan by three to one,” Romney said in Monday’s debate. “And states can make their own choices. I’m happy to stand up for what we did.”

Romney has become more skillful, too, at shifting the focus of the health care debate away from the past and toward his policy proposals for the future. Answering a question about bringing down the cost of health care—as opposed to health insurance—Romney explained how the costs of care are hidden from consumers. “The person who receives care in America generally doesn’t care how much it costs, because once they’ve paid their deductible, it’s free,” he said. “And the provider, the more they do, the more they get paid. We have something that’s not working like a market, it’s working like a government utility.”