It was pretty bad. But there’s another part of the interview I wanted to flag, in which Romney inadvertently made an eloquent case for Obamacare, in a way that’s revealing about his own approach to policy. Romney, who would repeal Obamacare, claimed he too would like to come up with a way of covering those with preexisting conditions, as the health law does, but added there’s a problem with so doing:
“You have to deal with those people who are currently uninsured, and help them have the opportunity to have insurance,” said Romney, who favors letting states craft their own plans.
“But then once people have all had that opportunity to become insured, if someone chooses not to become insured, and waits for 10 or 20 years and then gets ill and then says ‘Now I want insurance,’ you could hardly say to an insurance company, ‘Oh, you must take this person now that they’re sick,’ or there’d literally be no reason to have insurance.
“It’d be the same thing as saying, ‘Look, you’re not required to have homeowners insurance, but if your home catches fire, then you can get insurance at that point.’ That wouldn’t make a lot of sense.”
This is precisely why Obamacare has an individual mandate: Without one, it’s not feasible to require insurance companies to cover those with preexisting conditions, because it would lead people to only get insurance after they have gotten sick.
Note that Romney here says that covering those without insurance is a desirable policy goal. And yet he is vowing to repeal the law that is designed to remedy the very problem that he himself identified as an obstacle to carrying out that goal. Heck, he came up with the same remedy for this problem himself as Governor of Massachusetts.
Romney, of course, would say that he objects to Obamacare because it contains a federal mandate. Indeed, his advisers have suggested he favors states stepping in and protecting those with preexisting conditions. But this would require mandates for the same reasons. And Romney is not willing to say (these days, at least) that he thinks other states should broadly adopt mandates, either, because it would infuriate the GOP base, which has hated mandates ever since Obama adopted his.
More broadly, Romney has been badly misleading the public about his intentions towards those with preexisting conditions. When he’s talking to millions of people on television, he says his plan would protect them. Afterwards, when reporters start asking for clarification, his aides confirm that this would only apply to those with continuous coverage. At that point, of course, no one is listening anymore.
This latest iteration is even more absurd. Romney said we should take steps to cover the uninsured. But he then confirmed he would not compel insurance companies to cover many of those with preexisting conditions, correctly identifying the problems that would create. In so doing, he inadvertently made an eloquent case for the very solution to the problem that he would do away with, without coming up with any replacement solution of his own, even though the problem afflicts millions of Americans.