One of the big stories of the day is that MSNBC misleadingly edited some video of Mitt Romney in a way that suggests that he was amazed by the touch-screen ordering gizmo at a local WaWa. I have to agree with Dylan Byers on this one. The full quote from Romney does show that Romney’s “amazement” was not about the technology; he was saying that he’s amazed that the private sector has learned how to compete while government remains sclerotic and inefficient.
Whatever you think of the quality of Romney’s overall argument, the editing did distort the meaning of his remarks.
That said, Romney said something at that appearance that deserves as much attention as the MSNBC editing snafu: His tale about the alleged 33-page government change-of-address form. Here’s what he said:
“I met an optometrist this morning. And this optometrist wanted to change his billing address. He moved his office from one side of town to the other. Same zip code. Same post office. But he wanted to change his address. He got a form from the federal government. This is so he can get reimbursement for the services he provides for the poor and seniors. The form he gets to change addresses is 33 pages long.”
Romney contrasted this tale of government inefficiency with the wonderously efficient WaWa ordering system. But Mediate points out that the relevant form, which allows Medicaid fee for service providers to change their addresses, is actually two pages long.
Perhaps Romney was talking about another form. In some cases Medicare does reimbursement of this sort. But on first hearing, it seems unlikely that such a form exists. The claim just doesn’t sound like it’s based in reality. And assuming that’s the case, what will have proven particularly interesting here is Romney’s casual willingness to repeat something in one of the highest profile media settings of all — the battle for the American presidency — withouth having any idea if it has even a shred of truth to it, simply because it serves the larger tale he’s trying to tell about government.
But again — maybe this time Romney is getting it right. I’ve asked the Romney campaign if they know who the optometrist was and if so if they’re going to make him available. Of course, candidates meet hundreds and hundreds of people daily, so perhaps that’s too much to ask. So barring that, I asked the Romney campaign if they are going to substantiate the claim. I’ve also asked a spokesperson for Medicare and Medicaid if there is any such form. I’ll update you when I hear back.