As a follow-up to Erick's post about Romney's advice to Obama that we need an individual mandate, I wanted to point out that Romney was calling for a nationwide mandate as far back as 2006.
On 4/12/2006 Mitt Romney told Neil Cavuto that an individual mandate was the Republican Way:
"It's Republican way of reforming the market. Because having 30 million people in this country without health insurance and having those people show up when they get sick and expect someone else to pay, that's the Democratic approach. That's the wrong way. The Republican approach is to say, you know what? Everybody should have insurance. They should pay what they can afford to pay. If they need help, we'll be there to help them, but no more free ride."
Just as troubling are Romney's statements about keeping the parts of Obamacare that he likes.
Repeal the bad and keep the good
In a video dated April, 2010, Romney is discussing the differences between Obamacare and Romneycare. One similarity he likes is that both have an "incentive" for everyone to be insured. (Incentive, penalty, same difference, right?) He also likes that both say no one can be denied coverage and both have insurance exchanges. Among the differences: he doesn't like Obama's price control scheme because "it will encourage the government to get into the insurance business." Say what? Isn't that what the whole Romneycare scheme is built upon?
The Cato Institute noted in 2008:
"At the time the legislation passed, Ed Haislmaier of the Heritage Foundation reassured critics that "the Connector will neither design the insurance products being offered nor regulate the insurers offering the plans." In reality, however, the Connector’s board has seen itself as a combination of the state legislature and the insurance commissioner, adding a host of new regulations and mandates."
"For example, the Connector’s governing board has decreed that by January 2009, no one in the state will be allowed to have insurance with more than a $2,000 deductible or total out-of-pocket costs of more than $5,000. In addition, every policy in the state will be required to phase in coverage of prescription drugs, a move that could add 5–15 percent to the cost of insurance plans. A move to require dental coverage barely failed to pass the board, and the dentists-along with several other provider groups-have not given up the effort to force their inclusion. This comes on top of the 40 mandated benefits that the state had previously required, ranging from in vitro fertilization to chiropractic services."
If that's Romney's idea of the government not being in the insurance business, he's sadly mistaken. Yet Romney said with a straight face at the Las Vegas debate, "We don’t have a government insurance plan. We rely on private insurers.”
Repeal? Replace? Reboot?
“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." (mittromney.com)
Currently only around half of the states are suing to stop the federal government from forcing them into Obamacare. We can assume that half the states will not apply for Romney Get-Out-of-Obamacare-Free Waivers. So while Romney is busy crafting his idea of a government-market-hybrid package (complete with some sort of government-controlled exchange) and fighting with the (hopefully) conservative Congress, Obamacare will be rolling along entrenching itself in 25 states. And even the states that receive waivers can't opt out of Obamacare. They can only change the way they implement the goals of Obamacare in their states.
Does anyone have any confidence that Mitt Romney is the man to get us out of the Obamacare mess? Or will he just find new ways to accomplish his goal of mandating insurance for everyone and creating heavily regulated exchanges that run up the budgets and don't actually fix the problem?