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Mitt Romney on Healthcare

September 11th, 2012 – Mitt Romney has repeatedly said that if elected he would immediately dismantle President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (widely known as Obamacare).

While Romney’s own healthcare plan in Massachusetts was the template for the Affordable Care Act, Romney maintains he is a proponent of Universal Health Care at the State level, but not at the Federal level.  Romney proposes diverting money from Medicaid and other federal sources of funding to the states.

The Massachusetts health care programs has its critics though as health premiums continue to rise and people are frustrated by regulatory red tape through its Health Care Connector program.

In last Sunday’s “Meet the Press” interview, Mitt Romney said one part of Obamacare he’d like to preserve is coverage for those with preexisting conditions. But ‘continuous coverage’ is key, his campaign stated later.

Regarding Medicare, Romney has been quoted as saying, “because there’s no change for anyone who is retired or nearing retirement. It’s only dealing with people in their 30s, 20s, 40s, and early 50s. That’s the group we’re dealing with and saying what’s the best deal for them? It strikes me the best deal for them is to either buy current Medicare or to have a private plan. A lot like Medicare advantage today. I like Medicare advantage.”

So, it seems that he is a proponent of a Medicare voucher type system for people in their early 50’s and younger.  Critics say this will pass increasing costs onto those consumers, making healthcare hard for them to afford during their retirement years.

Mitt Romney’s healthcare platform from his campaign’s website:

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.

Restore State Leadership and Flexibility
Mitt Romney 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.

• Block grant Medicaid and other payments to states
• Limit federal standards and requirements on both private insurance and Medicaid coverage
• Ensure flexibility to help the uninsured, including public-private partnerships, exchanges, and subsidies
• Ensure flexibility to help the chronically ill, including high-risk pools, reinsurance, and risk adjustment
• Offer innovation grants to explore non-litigation alternatives to dispute resolution

Promote Free Markets and Fair Competition
Competition drives improvements in efficiency and effectiveness, offering consumers higher quality goods and services at lower cost. It can have the same effect in the health care system, if given the chance to work.

• Cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits
• Empower individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools
• Prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage
• Facilitate IT interoperability

Empower Consumer Choice
For markets to work, consumers must have the information and the power to make decisions about their own care. Placing the patient at the center of the process will drive quality up and cost down while ensuring that services are designed to provide what Americans actually want.

• End tax discrimination against the individual purchase of insurance
• Allow consumers to purchase insurance across state lines
• Unshackle HSAs by allowing funds to be used for insurance premiums
• Promote “co-insurance” products
• Promote alternatives to “fee for service”
• Encourage “Consumer Reports”-type ratings of alternative insurance plans

In June of 2012, Romney outlined this plan while speaking to a group of small business owners in Orlando, Florida:

Step 1: Give states the responsibility, flexibility and resources to care for citizens who are poor, uninsured or chronically ill. This reform speaks to the central advantage of our federalist system — that different states will experiment with and settle on the solutions that suit their residents best. Some states might pass a plan like the one we did in Massachusetts, while others will choose an altogether different route. We can empower states to expand health care access to low-income Americans by block-granting funds for Medicaid and the uninsured. My reforms also offer the states resources to help the chronically ill — both to improve their access to care and to improve the functioning of insurance markets for others.

Step 2: Reform the tax code to promote the individual ownership of health insurance. The tax code offers open-ended subsidies for the purchase of insurance through employers. This subsidy is unfair — as it doesn’t apply to insurance purchased on one’s own. I propose to give individuals a choice between the current system and a tax deduction to buy insurance on their own. This simple change creates the best of both worlds. Absolutely nothing will change for those who like their current coverage. And individuals who don’t get coverage through their employers will have portable, lower-cost options.

Step 3: Focus federal regulation of health care on making markets work. This means both correcting common failures in insurance markets as well as eliminating counterproductive federal rules. For example, individuals who are continuously covered for a specified period of time may not be denied access to insurance because of pre-existing conditions. And individuals should be allowed to purchase insurance across state lines, free from costly state benefit requirements. Finally, individuals and small businesses should be allowed to form purchasing pools to lower insurance costs and improve choice.

Step 4: Reform medical liability. We should cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice litigation. The federal government would also provide innovation grants to states for reforms, such as alternative dispute resolution or health care courts.

Step 5: Make health care more like a consumer market and less like a government program. This can be done by strengthening health savings accounts that help consumers save for health expenses and choose cost-effective insurance. For example, we should eliminate the minimum deductible requirement for HSA’s. The market reforms I am proposing will drive down costs, better inform consumers and improve the quality of health care in our nation.

Tomorrow, see the related post: Barack Obama on Healthcare.

Sources: Mitt Romney Campaign Website and  2012 Candidate Comparison

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