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Romney: Republicans ‘Believe In Allowing People To Have Choice In Their Health Care’ — Except A Public Option

By Amanda Terkel on June 28, 2009 at 12:13 pm

"Romney: Republicans ‘Believe In Allowing People To Have Choice In Their Health Care’ — Except A Public Option"

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Today on NBC’s Meet the Press, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney bristled at criticisms that Republicans don’t have any ideas. “We have a health care plan. … We believe in allowing people to have choice in their health care,” he said.

However, despite this belief in “choice,” a few minutes later Romney said that allowing people to choose a public option is out of the question:

One state in America, my state, was able to put into place a plan that got everybody health insurance. And it did not require a public government insurance company. That’s the last thing America needs. You know exactly what it is.

President Obama, when he was campaigning, said he wanted a single-payer system. That’s what it would lead to. He would subsidize this over time. It would become larger and larger, drive the private options out of the health care industry.

Watch it:

Obama is not trying to create a single-payer system. In 2003, Obama did say, “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer, universal health-care program.” However, he admitted that such a system was unrealistic in the United States. Since that time, he has reiterated his belief that a single-payer system would be unworkable in America. From an online town hall discussion on March 26:

And so what evolved in America was an employer-based system. It may not be the best system if we were designing it from scratch. But that’s what everybody is accustomed to. That’s what everybody is used to. It works for a lot of Americans. And so I don’t think the best way to fix our health care system is to suddenly completely scrap what everybody is accustomed to and the vast majority of people already have. Rather, what I think we should do is to build on the system that we have and fill some of these gaps.

So why are Republicans so afraid of giving the public one more option in health care, if they are supposedly all about “choice”? In his press conference last week, Obama addressed this hypocrisy:

Why would it [a public option] drive private insurers out of business? If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care, if they tell us that they’re offering a good deal, then why is it that the government — which they say can’t run anything — suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That’s not logical.

In fact, one of the reasons that Obama has said a public option is so important is that it will “give people a broader range of choices and inject competition into the health care market so that force waste out of the system and keep the insurance companies honest.” The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky has put together a document debunking the myths surrounding the public option here.

Transcript:

ROMNEY: Listen Mr. Axelrod, you’re wrong when you say we don’t have ideas. We have a health care plan. You look at Wyden-Bennett that a number of Republicans think is a very good health care plan, one that we support. Take a look at that one. We believe in allowing people to have choice in their health care. [...]

GREGORY: Governor?

ROMNEY: Absolutely right. We have a model that works. One state in America, my state, was able to put into place a plan that got everybody health insurance. And it did not require a public government insurance company. That’s the last thing America needs. You know exactly what it is.

President Obama, when he was campaigning, said he wanted a single-payer system. That’s what it would lead to. He would subsidize this over time. It would become larger and larger, drive the private options out of the health care industry. It would be just disastrous for health care in this country, and the right way to proceed is to reform health care. That we can do as we did it in Massachusetts, as Wyden-Bennett is proposing doing it at the national level. We can do it for the nation, we can get everybody insured, we can get the cost of health care down, but we don’t have to have government insurance and government running health care to get that done.

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