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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Romney's Healthcare Plan: Just Passing the Buck

It's time once again to discuss "repeal and replace." That's the Republicans' so-called plan to deal with the terrible problem of Obamacare. They want to repeal the whole damned thing, then replace it with something a lot better. Here's Mitt Romney's campaign website on the big plan to replace the Affordable Care Act:

On his first day in office, Mitt Romney will issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all fifty states. He will then work with Congress to repeal the full legislation as quickly as possible.

In place of Obamacare, Mitt will pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens. The federal government’s role will be to help markets work by creating a level playing field for competition...

Mitt will begin by returning states to their proper place in charge of regulating local insurance markets and caring for the poor, uninsured, and chronically ill. States will have both the incentive and the flexibility to experiment, learn from one another, and craft the approaches best suited to their own citizens.

So Mitt's plan is that he doesn't actually have a plan. He'll hand out money to the states with block grants -- which are more likely to be spent plugging budget holes than on health care -- and that's about it. He's passing the buck and calling it a "plan." All he promises to do is return the health care market to its previous completely screwed up and unsustainable status quo -- then it's up to someone else to get us out of this mess Mittens has made.


This isn't a plan so much as a cowardly PR campaign. Romney's plan has less to do with fixing runaway healthcare costs and insuring the uninsured than it does with avoiding specifics. In fact, his big plan is to recreate the original problem, then call on someone else to fix it. This is Romney's idea of "leadership."

And there's a reason why Romney -- and the rest of the GOP, for that matter -- would want to avoid specifics. And that's because specific aspects of the ACA are extremely popular.

Steve Benen:

A national New York Times/CBS News poll recently asked respondents whether they approve of a specific provision in the Affordable Care Act: protections for those with pre-existing conditions. It was the single most popular element of "Obamacare" -- a whopping 85% approve of the measure.

Keep in mind, these days, 85% of Americans don't agree on much of anything, but they all like this.

That may not matter. Many Republican policymakers, if they succeed in destroying the entirely of the Affordable Care Act, have every intention of ending these wildly popular protections. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a member of the House GOP leadership and a point man for the party on health policy, said this week the provision is "a terrible idea."

This is the Republicans' problem in a nutshell: people want to have their cake and eat it too. You can't have the pre-existing condition protection without the individual mandate. At least, not unless you're going to go with the dreaded, commie singlepayer health system. If people aren't required to have insurance and insurers are required to sell new policies to people with pre-existing conditions, why on earth would you buy insurance when you're healthy? The insurance company can't turn you down, so you just wait until you're sick, then you get insurance. This is called the "free rider problem" and if the individual mandate goes, the protections for pre-existing conditions go too. You can't have one without the other. Insurance companies would go broke in no time flat.

So you can see why Romney wouldn't be eager to take that problem on. After all, as Governor of Massachusetts he solved it the same way Obama did -- with an individual mandate that is now the worst thing ever. He can't solve it another way, no one can, so it's someone else's problem.

That's Mitt Romney's big plan for healthcare -- make it someone else's problem. Because that's the new standard for what Republicans are calling "leadership" these days.


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