Monday, September 10, 2012

One of those things

Romney is at it again over health care. For months, his mantra has been "repeal, replace" in regards to Obamacare. This has resonated with his base very effectively, and he's been sidestepping most of the more popular pieces of the law so he won't be seen as disenfranchising any newly supported demographics.

But Romney has made the fatal Romney mistake of getting down to specifics, and in this case, it comes with a major contradiction. Romney stated on "Meet the Press" that he would not repeal Obamacare in its entirety. That is a new stance for the Republican Presidential candidate. When asked for specifics on what he would keep, Romney tossed out pre-existing conditions. To put that in perspective, the mandate in the law that insurance companies be required to cover people with pre-existing conditions is one of the most popular and most controversial parts of the law. It essentially forces insurance companies to do their job, despite the profit margin, something insurance companies seem loathe to do.

So, this flip-flop seems to be bad enough. Romney went on to clarify (another change from tradition) that he would support plans to keep certain parts of the law, and would make it illegal for people with pre-existing conditions to be discriminated against if they move to a new job (this is already law). But then a Romney aide, whose name I couldn't find, took it a step further. The aide claimed that Romney's comments were not a contradiction, that Romney supported people with pre-existing conditions having insurance and that, here's where it gets good, the free market would take care of those people.

I'm sure Romney would never have said this, even if he believes it. After all, it would be political suicide to suggest we go back to the free market health care solutions from before the ACA, when people with pre-existing conditions couldn't get insurance at all, and people saw their coverage dropped when they got sick. It would be like admitting amnesia over how our system worked merely five years ago.

To suggest that a private sector company in a free market system will cover a person with a pre-existing condition, even at a loss, is laughable. That's bad business, and no company whose sole interest is the bottom line would do that on their own. I can understand the theory that a company would offer a plan for folks with pre-existing conditions as a way of carving out a niche in the market, but that company would never do that if it wasn't profitable, short or long term. That's why the ACA was good: it forced companies do their job, even if it wasn't good business, and forced them to actually help people.

I'm hoping that we can have a grown-up discussion about health care solutions, and I would like to see more work done on preventative care. I support the ACA for the most part, and I would hope that Romney, in an effort to be popular, will support some of the key provisions that his base may be too blinded to see the value in.

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