On healthcare, Romney pledged to “repeal and replace Obamacare.” The centerpiece of his rollback is the elimination of the individual mandate, which requires all Americans to buy subsidized insurance. Bafflingly, in the same breath, Romney promised to maintain Obamacare’s “pre-existing conditions” provision, which prevents insurance companies from denying coverage due to longterm ailments such as asthma, autism or HIV/AIDS.
The problem is that covering pre-existing conditions is expensive. In order to pay for the added costs of doing so, the insurance companies themselves insisted during the negotiations on Obamacare that the number of people participating in the healthcare system be expanded to help pay for it. That’s one of the key reasons for why we have the mandate: it helps underwrite the coverage of pre-existing conditions. Without the mandate, there is no viable way to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions can get coverage.
Romney himself once acknowledged this fact. That’s why he included both the pre-existing conditions provision and the individual mandate in his healthcare plan for Massachusetts.
When Obama pointed out that Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan was the model for Obamacare, Romney said, “I like the way we did it in Massachusetts.” But in a strange move of mental jujitsu, the former governor, went on to deride Obama for taking Romneycare nationwide through Obamacare. What was good for the people of his home state is apparently not good for the rest country.
Romney had a string of additional desultory answers and skewed facts on Medicare, Medicaid and education. On the Obama administration’s key education initiative, Race to the Top, Romney said that he “did agree” with the program. However he opposes the $4 billion included in the stimulus plan that established Race to the Top and got it going.