Earlier this week, The Hill ran a curious headline: "Romney: Repeal health law, keep pre-existing conditions clause." Congressional Republicans have already expressed a willingness to leave several key provisions of the Affordable Care Act intact, is Mitt Romney prepared to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, too?
Not exactly. Under Romney's vision, an employee who has a pre-existing condition should be able to keep his or her coverage if they change jobs. That's not exactly a bold position -- since 1996, federal law has already protected these folks.
But what about everyone else who has a pre-existing condition, including children? As Sam Stein reported, they're out of luck.
For starters, there is the question of what happens to individuals with pre-existing conditions who lose their jobs rather than move to a new one? Often, COBRA coverage doesn't fully cover treatment costs or last long enough. Another, perhaps more pertinent question is what happens to people who enter the insurance market already suffering from a pre-existing condition? [...][A statement from the Romney campaign] confirms that under a Romney presidency, there would be no federal prohibition barring health insurers from discriminating against pre-existing conditions. Instead, his administration would push reforms that help eat away at the problem.
Those "reforms" -- including turning responsibilities to states -- have been largely ineffective.
An ABC report added that Romney's policy "does not immediately address people who have never had private health insurance, or who have had insurance but spent some time without, often because of financial circumstances and unemployment."
Given the popularity of these consumer protections -- as many as 85% of Americans support coverage for those with pre-existing conditions -- Romney is placing himself on the wrong side of the American mainstream.
Stephanie Cutter of the Obama campaign responded, "Mitt Romney just clarified the choice in this election – he'd put insurance companies back in charge. People living with pre-existing conditions from asthma to breast cancer are on their own if Mitt Romney is elected president and millions more would lose their health insurance."
Something to keep in mind when you see news reports about Romney's support for "keeping the pre-existing conditions clause."