Mitt Romney will unveil his strategy to repeal and replace ObamaCare at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center in Ann Arbor. Mitt Romney's PAC, Free and Strong America, has already released an outline of what he will present on Thursday:
Mark Halperin thinks this is a great move for Mitt Romney:· Restore to the states the responsibility and resources to care for their poor, uninsured, and chronically ill.
· Give a tax deduction to those who buy their own health insurance, just like those who buy it through their employers.
· Streamline the federal regulation of healthcare.
· Reduce the influence of lawsuits on medical practice and costs.
· Make healthcare more like a consumer market and less like a government program.
This is smart. Romney won't back off his past statements on his Massachusetts health care law Thursday. The plan he is releasing is an updated version of the one he ran on in 2008.
Romney's rivals believe health care makes him unnominatable. Romney has failed so far in convincing the media and others that he can explain his record on this issue. By putting out a detailed plan well before any of his opponents, Romney has his best chance to move the conversation from the past to the future. Hillary Clinton tried to do the same thing on Iraq in 2008 and almost succeeded; and/but right now Romney doesn't have anyone standing in his way for the nomination who is as politically formidable as Barack Obama was four years ago.
"I'm proud of what we've done," he said. "If Massachusetts succeeds in implementing it, then that will be a model for the nation."
"I think there are a number of features in the Massachusetts plan that could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans," Romney told CNN. "The fact that we were able to get people insured without a government option is a model I think they can learn from."
The key feature here is we’re letting people get their own private health insurance, not a government plan, not a government insurance plan, not a government takeover in any way, shape or form, no new taxes being applied. And as a result of doing that, we’re getting everybody insured. It’s with portable insurance purchased from the private companies.
During that interview, Mitt Romney explains what the key feature of his health plan that he would like to see implemented at the national level.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about something I’m very impressed with, and everybody else will be, I think. And that’s what you have been able to accomplish up there with health care. Everybody wants health care for people who are working and playing by the rules and trying to raise families and not having enough money to pay for expensive health care. Will the Massachusetts effort that you’ve just signed now, will it work for the country?ROMNEY: Well, it will work for Massachusetts, and that’s of course the thing that I had to focus on. There are certain aspects of it that I think would work across the country, perhaps better in some states than others. Of course the great thing about federalism is you let a state try it and see how it works before you spread it out.But there’s some key features and I think this is one of them, which is that we are already spending billions of dollars in our country and in my state, about a billion dollars, giving free care to people who don’t have insurance. And the question was, if we took that money and helped them buy insurance, could we have everybody insured and the answer is yes.We don’t need new money. We don’t need new taxes. We could use the money we’re currently spending and get people better health care without having the burden and the cost of the uninsured being borne by everybody else.
Actually, there are two key features in Mitt Romney's health care plan. Helping poor people get health insurance is just one part of the key feature of his plan as the former governor of Massachusetts explained above. However, the other essential feature of his plan was helping those who work as freelancers or independent contractors afford health insurance:
MATTHEWS: So people below the poverty line are covered by Medicaid.People who have good jobs and good employment contracts have health care. The people in the middle, the people who are freelance, in the business I’m in right now, television, freelance people don’t get health insurance. People that are above the poverty line don’t get the advantage of Medicaid unless they impoverish themselves.Is there enough money in saving from emergency rooms and other costs to cover the cost of that middle of the road person who is somewhere between the poverty level and well off?ROMNEY: Well, that’s what we found. We studied at some length the people who didn’t have insurance, and we found, first of all, that about 40 percent of those that don’t have insurance had plenty of income to buy their own private policy if it were reasonably priced. So we stripped out some mandates. We allowed co-pays and deductibles that are larger. And those people can buy insurance.
As Mitt Romney explains it, the key feature of his plan was designed to help two groups of people who traditionally cannot get health care on their own: (1) those who are under the poverty line and (2) those who work as freelancers or independent contractors.
When it comes to empowering the people who are below the poverty line to be able to afford private health insurance, Mitt Romney essentially created a medical voucher system for them. All he did was shift the money that the state and federal government get to cover the cost associated with hospital visits by the uninsured into a system whereby people could use that money to buy health insurance.
As for the freelancers and independent contractors, Mitt Romney found a solution that would encourage health insurance companies to offer reasonably priced health insurance by allowing them to offer larger co-pays and deductibles.
As you can see, the key feature of RomneyCare isn't the individual mandate. That is not what Mitt Romney wanted to see implemented at the national level. Its clear from Mitt Romney's interview with Chris Matthews that what Mitt Romney wanted to see implemented nationally was medical vouchers for those who are below the poverty line and making health care affordable for those Americans who work as independent contractors by allowing private health insurance companies to offer co-pays and deductibles.
Many people, both on the left and the right, have fallen into the mistaken notion that the individual mandate was the essential ingredient in his health care plan and erroneously assumed that is the part that Mitt Romney wanted to see at the national level. It wasn't. It never was.
Even President Obama and the democrats in Congress who actually wrote ObamaCare made the mistake of making the individual mandate the key feature of ObamaCare. Had they contacted Mitt Romney and asked him what essential part of his plan was, they would have found out that the individual mandate was never intended to be implemented at the national level.
After 20 minute speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Mitt Romney explained during the question and answer session that Obama never called him to ask for his advice about how to deal with health care at the national level:
“He does me the great favor of saying that I was the inspiration of his plan. If that’s the case, why didn’t you call me?” Mr. Romney said. “Why didn’t you ask what was wrong? Why didn’t you ask if this was an experiment, what worked and what didn’t?”To applause, he added: “I would have told him, ‘What you’re doing, Mr. President, is going to bankrupt us.”
"He never gave me a call. Neither he nor any of his colleagues [gave me] a call to ask what worked and did not work, and how would they improve upon it and so forth. If what was done at the state level, they applied at the federal level, they made a mistake. It was not designed for the nation."
Mitt Romney realized that there will always be people who want a "free ride" despite the fact that they have been given ample opportunity to get and afford the things that they need and want. They illegitimately use the government for services and benefits regardless if there are tax breaks, vouchers, larger co-pays and deductibles and other tools that would allow them get private health insurance.
Not all free riders are people looking to cut corners and to evade responsibility. There are those who simply cannot afford to purchase health care and sincerely as well as legitimately use the government to satisfy their health care needs. They're not looking to cut corners and to avoid personal responsibility. The are trying to be good decent people but cannot afford to purchase health care with their honest wages.
Regardless if people are "free riders" for legitimate or illegitimate purposes, its clear that the government created the free rider problem in the first place. Our politicians created people's dependency on government by offering free health care to those who couldn't afford it. Our politicians invited people to take advantage of the government even though they could afford to purchase their health care insurance and encouraged people not to take personal responsibility for themselves by offering free health care to them.
The individual mandate is just one conservative solution to the free rider problem. It discourages those who illegitimately use government for getting their health care needs and empowers those who cannot afford private health insurance by providing medical vouchers so that they can afford it.
Mitt Romney's health care plan is also libertarian solution to the free rider problem. In a 2006 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he wrote:
"Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate. But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian."
During the question and answer question at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Mitt Romney explained that his health care plan was an experiment to resolve the free rider problem:
"If somebody in your state who doesn't have insurance has a terrible automobile accident … we don't let them die in the street," Romney said. "Guess who pays for it? You. The government."
"We said, you know what, this free rider problem is a real concern," he added. "That concept led us to coming up with an experiment."
Despite the fact the individual mandate is a conservative/libertarian solution to the free rider problem, many people think that the individual mandate is a government solution to a very serious problem. The only "government" thing about it is that it's a government mandate (this is the government part of it) that everyone obtain private insurance for use with private sector healthcare providers, e.g. doctors.
In conclusion, I am excited to hear Mitt Romney's presentation at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center. Mitt Romney has already given his general plan on how to get rid of ObamaCare but now he will lay out the specifics of his plan to repeal ObamaCare.
As far as his plan for replacing ObamaCare, I think Mitt Romney will focus on the two key features of his plan that he has always wanted to see at the national level. I predict that he will he will propose ways to empower people below the poverty line to have the ability to private insurance for use with private sector health care providers and outline ways for contractors, independent workers, and free lancers to afford health care.
Although the news indicates that Mitt Romney will reveal his health care plan based on an updated version of the one he ran on in 2008, I predict that the individual mandate will not be part of his plan to replace President Obama's health care plan with his own new health care plan for America. The individual mandate was not an essential feature of his health care plan in Massachusetts and I'm fairly confident that it will not be a key feature in his new plan for America.