ROBINSON: Romney's mixed message on health care
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 10, 2012 at 4:28 p.m.
In an interview broadcast Sunday on
But when I checked the transcript, here’s what I found:
But as Romney knows, it’s the individual mandate that makes the other benefits possible by preventing young, healthy people from gaming the system. They would just wait until they got sick to purchase insurance, knowing they couldn’t be turned down because of the
Romney is familiar with the problem of these so-called free-riders because he solved it when he was governor of Massachusetts. With an individual mandate.
Hold it, breaking news, this just in: After the
My advice is that before making a serious attempt to understand what Romney might actually do, make sure your health insurance policy covers whiplash.
We know more about how Romney would handle Medicare. Beginning in 2023, the program would no longer be a promise to provide health care to seniors. It would be a promise to give seniors a voucher that is unlikely to cover the full cost of buying private health insurance.
We also know what Romney and running mate Paul Ryan plan to do about Medicaid, the health care program for the poor. Ryan’s proposed budget, which Romney has endorsed, would give block grants to the states and let them run the program. This would mean inadequate funding, which would mean merciless cuts. Among those whose well-being is most threatened by the Romney-Ryan plan are seniors who have exhausted their savings and whose nursing home care is paid not by Medicare but by Medicaid.
Don’t worry, Romney says, he’ll make sure all Americans have the health care they need and deserve.
On one level, the confusion Romney generated Sunday about his views simply reflects his willingness to say whatever he thinks people want to hear.
But health care is no ordinary issue. Bringing universal health insurance coverage to the citizens of Massachusetts — via the individual mandate — was Romney’s greatest accomplishment as governor. This is subject matter he truly understands.
He knows full well that if he fulfills his promises, or threats, regarding Obamacare, there won’t be any affordable coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. He knows that if he follows through on Medicare and Medicaid, seniors will have to pay more for their care and many poor Americans won’t receive adequate care at all.
No wonder Romney has so much trouble sticking to a consistent story.
Eugene Robinson is a columnist for the Washington Post.
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