In an interview with 60 Minutes last night, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney answered some tough questions that have been dogging his campaign of late. He made a claim that was in direct contradiction to stances he took as governor of Massachusetts. Romney said that ER care was sufficient for the uninsured, and that we do not let people die without care in this country.
During his one term as governor, Mitt Romney passed a health care law that would serve as the blueprint for Obamacare. The laws have several similarities, the most notable being the individual mandate. Under the mandate, all people who can afford insurance must buy it or face a fine or tax. The idea behind the mandate is that it prevents people from opting for more expensive ER care. Those that can not afford insurance are given subsidies to help purchase it.
The individual mandate is a conservative idea. It was touted in the early 1990s by the Heritage Foundation as an alternative to Hilarycare. The principle of the idea is that citizens are forced to take responsibility for their own healthcare, rather than place the burden on the government through ER care, which can not be refused in cases of emergency. By making people buy insurance, ER visits can be prevented by having patients regularly visit their doctor.
Romney once hailed his landmark legislation. Once Republicans began to rail against Obamacare, Romney backed away from his own legislation. He began to hammer away at Obamacare, claiming he would repeal and replace it. Romney tried to make the argument that the laws were vastly different, but the attempt was made in vain. Some of the same people worked on both pieces of legislation, and dismissed his claims outright.
Romney’s statements on ER care show just how far he has come on the topic. The emergency room is an expensive alternative to universal health care. People that are forced to use this option are typically unable to ever pay the bill. The state is left to cover them, and their credit is ruined. Both sides lose.
Romney’s stance on the issue of healthcare has become quite muddled. A few weeks ago, he said in an interview with Meet the Press that he would keep some parts of Obamacare, such as the prohibition of discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. He later back tracked on that claim. Now he is making an argument that is in direct contradiction to the one he made as governor.
The stance Romney has taken is indicative of the situation Republicans find themselves in relation to President Obama. For his entire first term, Republicans have opposed everything the president has pushed, even if they had previously agreed on the measures previously. This has led Republicans to oppose infrastructure spending, payroll tax cuts, and a conservative based health care reform law. In the era of the 24 hour news cycle and the internet, these contradictions did not go unnoticed. This is one of the reasons the GOP finds itself in perilous electoral waters.