Tuesday, October 09, 2012

AP: Romney's Pre-Existing Conditions Health Plan Isn't What He Says It Is

The AP's Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar commits real journalism in this story on Mitt Romney's sudden "moderation" when it comes to health care reform, pointing out that, no, he really doesn't offer much in the way of protection for people with pre-existing conditions. Here's the lede:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he has a plan to help people with pre-existing medical conditions get health insurance. But there's a huge catch: You basically have to be covered in the first place.

He goes on to explain that Romney's solution is only a solution for those people who have managed to keep their insurance coverage without any lapses. The majority of people—Kaiser Family Foundation estimates about 70 percent—who are uninsured are there because of major life upheaval like losing their job or getting divorced. Maintaining continuous coverage, the key to Romney's pre-existing condition protections, is out of the reach of many because of the costs of trying to stay on a plan or getting new coverage on the individual market is just too high.

The reporter also goes on to explain the major difference between Romney's plan and Obamacare: "[I]t's the law of the land," and insurance companies have to accept all comers. Period. And it makes getting that insurance more affordable. He also points out that while Romney has been "stressing his pre-existing conditions plan as he works to soften his public image in the homestretch of a campaign [...] his campaign has only provided a bare-bones set of talking points."

One part of the story that's missing here it the real contradiction in Romney's plan that already makes it unworkable. Romney says that "Regulation must prevent insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage." But his plan also hinges on allowing insurers to sell their plans across states, which would lead to a lowest common denominator of state regulation. Romney is going to leave it to the states, and the states are unlikely to impose much tougher regulations than neighboring states if the insurance market expands across their borders.

Romney's plan wouldn't prevent insurers from discriminating and it wouldn't prevent them from charging higher rates based on medical status. It's a sham, and good for the AP for exposing it as such.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Oct 09, 2012