Romney: Uninsured have emergency rooms

September 24, 2012

In his interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday night, Republican  presidential candidate Mitt Romney pointed to emergency rooms as a form of health care for people without insurance. 

"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance," Romney told interviewer Scott Pelley. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and -- and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."

Video via the Huffington Post: 

When Pelley pointed out that the ER is the most expensive form of health-care, Romney argued that he was talking about a variety of options that vary by state.

"Some provide that care through clinics, some provide that care through emergency rooms," he said. In Massachusetts, Romney said, they had come up with a different solution -- but he wouldn't push universal care on other states. 

Then-President George W. Bush made a similar comment in 2007, when threatening to veto an expansion of the federal Children's Health Insurance Program. "People have access to health care in America," Bush told a Cleveland audience. "After all, you just go to an emergency room."

But Romney's position is a shift from 2010, when he told MSNBC that part of the impetus for the Massachusetts health-care law was to keep people out of the ER.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care for which they have no responsibility," he said.  

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Rachel Weiner · September 24, 2012