This weekend on Meet the Press, Romney said “there are a number of things I like” about President Obama’s health care reform law, including the popular provision on pre-exisiting conditions. Romney’s campaign, however, began walking back his statements as soon as they left his mouth.
After the NBC interview aired, a Romney aide was quick to clarify Romney was “not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer [the] particular features” that he suggested he supported. When further pressed on Romney’s stated support for preventing discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions, a campaign aide explained, “Governor Romney will ensure that discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage is prohibited.”
The aide pointed to earlier statements from Romney on the subject, explaining that Romney’s current position is exactly what he expressed at a Florida rally this summer:
ROMNEY: So let’s say someone has been continuously insured and they develop a serious condition. And let’s say they lose their jobs or they change jobs or they move and go to a different place, I don’t want them to be denied insurance because they have some pre-existing conditions. So we’re going to have to make sure that the law that we replace Obamacare with, ensures that people who have a pre-existing condition, who have been insured in the past, are able to get insurance in the future so they don’t have to worry about that condition keeping them from getting the kind of health care they deserve.
Under the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the federal government already prevents insurers from denying coverage to the “continuously insured” group that Romney mentions, although HIPAA has failed to effectively regulate the cost and content of the insurance coverage that insurers extend to those with pre-existing conditions. The Romney campaign is insistent on clarifying the fact that, rather than supporting health care reform, Romney’s stance on pre-existing conditions reinforces the status quo.
The key part of the Obamacare provision is the protection for millions of previously uninsured Americans who are denied insurance coverage because of their pre-existing conditions. Romney’s campaign wants to make it clear that Romney rejects this policy in favor of denying coverage to the 89 million Americans who haven’t been lucky enough to have continuous coverage.