Here’s the thing that everyone’s missing in the taken-out-context hoo-hah over Mitt Romney’s statement that he likes to fire people: It makes no sense, at least as a critique of President Obama.
Romney was talking about the ability of consumers to switch insurance companies if they’re unhappy with their health coverage.
“I want people to be able to own insurance if they wish to, and to buy it for themselves and perhaps keep it for the rest of their life and to choose among different policies offered from companies across the nation,” Romney said. “That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep people healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. If someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I’m going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me.”
Guess what? That’s what people were able to do under the health insurance exchanges that Romney set up as governor of Massachusetts. And it’s what the insurance exchanges that the Obamacare plan so reviled by Romney would do as well.
The whole point of the exchanges is to give individuals without employer-sponsored coverage a choice among competing insurers, and a chance to switch if they’re unhappy with their existing insurance. Incentives, competition, choice — all the benefits that Romney praises are embedded in [sneering tone here] Obamacare.
Romney’s real gaffe is that the more he talks about his vision of health insurance, the more it sounds like President Obama’s. Not that this is the part that’s going to end up hurting him. But it should, or at least it should take the sting out of his attack on Obama and his hope to hand the president a pink slip.