TPM2012

Mitt Romney’s Other Health Care Problem Comes To Surface

Mitt Romney’s Other Health Care Problem Comes To Surface

Mitt Romney has grown so accustomed to defending his old health care position to the right that he may have trouble defending his new one from the left.

The presidential candidate was so jarred by a simple line of questioning from — of all people — Jay Leno on Tuesday night about coverage for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions to the point that he seemed to suggest a new position out of thin air.

Leno pressed Romney repeatedly on what to do about uninsured children and certain workers whose jobs don’t allow them to obtain coverage. Romney at first stressed that he would work to make sure “people with pre-existing conditions, as long as they have been insured before, they are going to be able to continue to have insurance.” But when Leno continued, Romney seemed to propose going further than his own plan allows.

We’ll look at a circumstance where someone is ill and hasn’t been insured so far,” Romney said, “but people who have the chance to be insured — if you are working in the auto business, for instance, the companies carry insurance, they insure their employees, you look at the circumstances that exist — but people who have done their best to get insured are going to be able to be covered.”

The trouble is, Romney hasn’t suggested any way people who have been ill can obtain insurance in the first place.

Romney has been under fire in recent weeks for omitting crucial details from his policy proposals that make them easily adapted to both sides of the debate. But in this case his out-of-thin-air help for the sick suggestion seems more like a slip of a tongue, if a telling one.

Asked about Romney’s Leno comments, the Romney campaign clarified to TPM that the former Massachusetts governor will find ways to prevent insurers from dropping people who get sick, so long as those people maintain continuous coverage. They offered no proposals regarding sick people who haven’t been able to get in the first place.

In fact, the only time Romney raised the specter of such cases in the Leno interview was to mock a hypothetical middle-aged man who tries to get insurance after becoming sick.

“If they are 45 years old and they show up and say, ‘I want insurance because I have heart disease,’ it’s like, ‘Hey guys. We can’t play the game like that. You’ve got to get insurance when you are well and then if you get ill, you are going to be covered,’” Romney said.

The trouble is that, as Romney is surely aware from his work in Massachusetts, that 45-year-old guy who could have had insurance but chose to take his chances is hardly the face of pre-existing condition discrimination. Millions are in danger of losing insurance for reasons well beyond their control. Most notably, as Leno pointed out, children suffering from chronic illness.

Many workers are forced to rely on part-time and freelance work that doesn’t include benefits, a statistic that Romney often cites on the trail. Benefits designed to keep insurance in place continuously (as Romney encourages) like COBRA are often too expensive to possibly maintain, expire during long-term unemployment or never kick in as laid-off workers in a variety of circumstances (like when their employers’ business goes under) do not qualify. Then there are other cases where those with pre-existing conditions may end up uninsured through no fault of their own: the college graduates who struggle to get a job with coverage after graduation, a stay-at-home spouse with a pre-existing condition who loses family coverage in a divorce, for example, or whose spouse moves from a private family plan to Medicare.

Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist who helped craft Romney’s Massachusetts health care law, told TPM that Romney had little to offer people facing such struggles without renewing his past support for universal coverage.

“Without a ban on insurance market discrimination, you can’t cover pre-existing conditions exclusions — and without a mandate, you can’t effectively have such a ban,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is already seizing on Romney’s dismissal of the imaginary 45-year-old seeking coverage.

“Only in Mitt Romney’s world of tax cuts for billionaires and elevators for his cars would denying health care coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions make sense,” Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement.

Add it up, and the Leno exchange is a striking reminder that, even after a year of campaigning, Romney will enter the general election on shaky ground, forced to passionately defend many of the same disturbing health care practices that he devoted his governorship to ending in Massachusetts.

2012, 2012 Presidential Primaries, Health Care, Health care, Mitt Romney, health care reform
Benjy Sarlin

Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.

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Lefty Lucy 102 pts

"“but people who have the chance to be insured — if you are working in the auto business, for instance, the companies carry insurance, they insure their employees, you look at the circumstances that exist..."

 

You mean the UNION auto businesses whose UNIONS forced them to provide insurance? The auto businesses that you said should go die? Or did you mean all those happy uninsured Wal-Mart workers that are sucking up Medicaid so the Waltons can make a few more billion? Those are the workers in the new Republican economy. They do not have a prayer of employer insurance.

 

" — but people who have done their best to get insured are going to be able to be covered.” Yes, that 2-year-old with the genetic disability, she should have sought coverage in utero. She should have tried harder.  But Darwin will sort her out.

 

You make me sick. Seriously, what part of their humanity are these people missing?

theaney 546 pts

Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist said, “Without a ban on insurance market discrimination, you can’t cover pre-existing conditions exclusions — and without a mandate, you can’t effectively have such a ban.”

 

Well, there it is then.  Did anyone say that THAT CLEARLY before SCOTUS this week?

matts2 87 pts

Here is a fun fact. Suppose you get disabled and lose your job. Cobra will run out before you become eligible for Medicare. And of course no one will sell insurance to a disabled person with an expensive pre-existing condition. Neat set--up.

 

Kiko Vi 33 pts

 matts2 Disabled people are ones who need insurance the most.  Even after SSD is approved, Medicare doesn't kick in for six months after benefits start.  And approval can take anywhere from six months to two years, if it's not granted on first application.  Another neat set-up.

rwm 225 pts

Damn Leno and his trick questions. Romney better stick to Fox and Friends. Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade don't have two brain cells to rub together.

Jeff Hall 128 pts

Grayson said it best:

 

GOP health care plan => DON'T GET SICK!

james.com.vt 91 pts

 Jeff Hall GOP health care plan A => DON'T GET SICK! plan B => DIE. Open enrollment all year.

merrymirth 1316 pts

Mr. Romney appears to have never had to understand a problem, make hard choices about solutions, and articulate his rationale to those who have to pay for it. His main skill appears to be spending money. Instead of running for president for decades, he might have taken on some challenge and learned what it takes. And don't tell me vulture capitalism is training grounds for leading a democracy. 

Last thing this country needs is another spoiled rich know-it-all surrounded by yes-men. 

amabo.rocks 349 pts

Asked about Romney’s Leno comments, the Romney campaign clarified to TPM that the former Massachusetts governor will find ways to prevent insurers from dropping people who get sick, so long as those people maintain continuous coverage.

In 2009, Karen Tumulty of Time wrote a powerful article about her brother's health care battles in the 'great state' of Texas. 

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1883378,00.html

Patrick's story would not have happened under ObamaCare.  Per Romney's words, he would through him under the bus.

 

(It's a long article, but really worth reading to get a crystal clear reason why we need a federal plan.)

bearclaw 4369 pts

"Hey guys. We can’t play the game like that."

This isn't a game.  But Mittens wouldn't know that.  He has never had to worry about health care.

Jeff Hall 128 pts

 bearclaw Wow, Rmoney actually used the word "game" in discussing the life-threatening possibility of illness without insurance.

 

Just wow.

HappyTim 92 pts

If the ACA gets struck down the Republicans will lose bad in 2012. They have no counterproposals to fix health care, aside from their boring claim "Cut taxes for the wealthy and everyone gets rich!" They talk about Repeal and Replace, yet offer no real details of any replacement plan that would work that doesn't involve cutting Medicare significantly.

Beavis 399 pts

 HappyTim No counter proposals? Sure they do. Tort Reform!

vexedweasel 97 pts

 HappyTim

 What a fine crack pipe ypu must have. When it is struck down it will be a great Tea Party/Right Wing Victory (were you in the U.S in 2009/2010?).

In our Sporting event elction mentality- Dems lose- Rebups win.

And from what I heard of the transcripts today the Federalist Society members of the Court are going to make this a revolutionary ruling. Redefining the relationship between the federal government and the states.

The EPA, civil rights legislation, Medicaid, all will be unconstitutionally coercive to the States.

 

The Great Society, New Deal, and Progressivism all rolled up. 

 

Oh and BTW, with the White House, Senate and House all in Republican hands they will pas laws to force us to buy Social Security and Medicare insurance from private corporations. No case about that will be heard by the Supreme Court. 

 

 

four legs good 122 pts

I'd really like to know how Romney plans to address people like me - I've been continuously insured - until I lost my coverage because my job was eliminated due budget cuts in my state. I haven't found a job yet and COBRA was ruinously expensive. Oh, and in my state, a plan that covers catastrophic coverage runs around $5,000 a year.  Also out of reach for me. 

 

So am I out of luck in Romney's world? 

 

Let's address the real problem - the fact that health care in America is a for-profit business. Until we change that, we'll never have a system that works well for everyone. 

amabo.rocks 349 pts

 four legs good Thank you for putting a human face on the need for a plan like ObamaCare, if not ObamaCare itself.  I'm sorry you lost your care and I wish you employment as soon as possible.

vexedweasel 97 pts

 four legs good

 "So am I out of luck in Romney's world?" Yes.

dale0987654321 1765 pts

 four legs good "I'd really like to know how Romney plans to address people like me"

 

He doesn't address common folk.  That's what his personal assistants are for.

spas485 4652 pts

This exchange shows off the rotted core at the heart of the American health care delivery system.

 

As Romney points out , it's unfair to insurance companies for people to enroll only once they need coverage.

 

The problem is that the free market system, on which conservatives want to rely for cost containment and efficiency, depends on the ability of the consumer to choose his vendor and, if that vendor proves unsatisfactory, to switch his business to another vendor. When it comes to health care, the consumer has no way of knowing the level of service they will be offered until they need it - - in other words, until they are sick. At that point, it's too late to choose another vendor. he is trapped. The free market system loses a key natural check, and eventually turns into the monstrosity we have today.

 

Mittens doesn't realize it, because he doesn't appear to possess a very agile mind, but he has inadvertentl;y made a solid argument for single payer.

nedarbnieks 22 pts

Mittens doesn't "get it" because it's outside his ability to imagine what a hell it would be like to be stuck with a provider that isn't providing, to have nowhere else to go while your "non-provider" continues to suck your accounts dry for coverage of things that they will not cover.    spas485 

four legs good 122 pts

 nedarbnieks  spas485 It's also outside his ability to imagine the hell of knowing every day that you cannot call in sick to your temporary or contract job because you have no sick days AND being unable to go to a doctor because you are uninsured. So if you're sick, you stay that way and hope it's not serious or that you don't get worse. All because your republican governor thought slashing the state budget to burnish his tea party cred was more important than anything else. 

 

Romney can blow me. Seriously. 

dale0987654321 1765 pts

 four legs good "It's also outside his ability to imagine the hell of..."

 

No, he could.  He just doesn't bother with it.  (Too busy counting the money.)

gmoolan 695 pts

I demand that TPM pull this story immediately!  They ran an article earlier that the nomination was effectively over so the etch-a-sketch has been shaken, all past positions should be immediately and fully ignored!

ORIGINAL_DINO 992 pts

If the ACA had been introduced by a white, republican President, the white trash teabaggers and assorted conservative jerks would be praising it as the best thing on earth.

 

I just hope millions of republicans lose their coverage and get really, really sick.

cbmira01 59 pts

 ORIGINAL_DINO Dino, I agree. The only one factor that I can see that accounts for all the tea-bagger opposition to Obama and opposition to health reform is: innate racism. The baggers have drawn a battle line, and it's basically a racial line. There is nothing else imaginable that could call out the sustained witless anger and craziness we've seen since 2009.

Jimmy Lee James 41 pts

It's the party of millions without health care and at the same time no billionaires left behind, go figure...

agio 898 pts

"We can’t play the game like that. You’ve got to get insurance when you are well and then if you get ill, you are going to be covered."

 

Gee it's almost as if the government should mandate that people insure themselves.

jawanzao 33 pts

The problem is the COMIC was asking REAL QUESTIONS that COULD NOT BE ANSWERED WITH ----- LIES.

 

TIED POOR(OPPS SORRY) MITTS HANDS------ REPUBS LOVE TO LIE THEIR WAY OUT.!!

Technowitch 39 pts

You don't even have to have been "ill" to be denied insurance for a pre-existing condition. Since 2004, I have been rejected, repeatedly, because I have seasonal allergies and get occasional migraine headaches. Both of these conditions require nothing more than OTC medications 95% of the time, although it's sometimes helpful to get a Flonase scrip in the springtime and a back-up migraine med of some kind.

 

Yet these conditions disqualify me for insurance coverage. How did I lose my insurance? I'd had a group plan through a professional organization, the only way I as an individual could get insurance since even back in the early part of the last decade, insurance companies were making it nearly impossible to get individual coverage. Then, one day I got a letter saying the underwriter had canceled everything and we were all thrown into the individual market. At which point I learned I was uninsurable.

 

With the passage of the ACA, I finally qualified for the Federal High Risk insurance at a substantially subsidized and affordable rate.

 

According to Romney, apparently it's totally reasonable for me to be uninsurable simply because I have trouble with pollen and headaches. What a self-entitled out-of-touch plutocrat...

four legs good 122 pts

 Technowitch Wow, seriously? I have the same conditions - and as one of the newly uninsured (due to a recent job loss) I guess I'm uninsurable too. 

 

I am mad and getting madder. 

freeminded 56 pts

Jaw dropping how out of touch he is with the struggles, choices, and trade-offs most of us have to deal with in our lives. 

commie dearest 973 pts

Sad when the leading Republican candidate can be tripped up by a comic. Oh, well, it's better than being tripped up by a grade-schooler, I guess.

mcc 66 pts

“We’ll look at a circumstance where someone is ill and hasn’t been insured so far,” 

Doesn't he mean "I'll put a vague plan on my campaign website, then if elected ignore the issue and make no effort to pass legislation on the subject"?

nedarbnieks 22 pts

"We'll look into it." Vote R-Money 2012 mcc 

agavecasa 113 pts

“We’ll look at a circumstance where someone is ill and hasn’t been insured so far,” Romney said, “but people who have the chance to be insured — if you are working in the auto business, for instance, the companies carry insurance, they insure their employees, you look at the circumstances that exist — but people who have done their best to get insured are going to be able to be covered.”

 

So he's proposing... a health care 'panel?'  To decide if you're worthy of coverage or not?  What's next--a Romney 'Death Panel?' 

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