Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, said he would keep health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions even as he vows to replace President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law on the first day of his presidency.
“I’m not getting rid of all of health-care reform. Of course there are a number of things that I like in health-care reform that I’m going to put in place,” Romney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today. “One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage.”
The Obama administration contends that requiring insurers to cover those people, without also requiring almost everyone to have insurance, would cause prices to soar.
Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, a professor at Princeton University and columnist for the New York Times, wrote today that such a requirement, without an insurance mandate, would lead healthy people to opt out of insurance, leaving behind “a high risk, high cost pool.”
“It’s not as easy as keeping some of the pieces” without a mandate that individuals obtain insurance, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. Romney has a “credibility issue” and needs to explain his proposal with details and math, she said.
Romney, who as Massachusetts governor enacted his own fix to the state’s health-care system, said that he would also allow for “individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like,” and also be able to buy insurance on their own instead of “only being able to get it on a tax-advantage basis through their company.”
Romney once again defended a Medicare overhaul that would give future retirees a subsidy to buy private insurance rather than have all their health needs covered by the government.
Romney’s vision is close to the one his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin pushed through the U.S. House. Romney said his plan is similar to the current “Medicare Advantage” and dismissed criticism that the plan didn’t drive down costs.
“Look, competition works,” Romney said.
Romney’s wife, Ann, joined part of the program and said that she wants to dispel the notion that she and her husband don’t know what it is like “to struggle.”
“The thing that I want to communicate to people, and that it’s so important that people understand, is that Mitt and I do recognize that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives,” Ann said. “But I want people to believe in their hearts that we know what it is like to struggle.”
She said that her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis has been her “teacher.”
“It has been at times a cruel teacher,” she said on the NBC program. “But it has also been a great gift in my life because what it has done, it has taught me to be more compassionate and caring for others that are suffering. It’s ridiculous to think that you can’t have empathy for somebody that’s struggling.”
On a lighter note, Romney said that he laughed at actor Clint Eastwood’s surprise speech during the Republican convention in Tampa Florida. Eastwood delivered an improvisational and imaginary conversation with President Obama, represented by an empty chair.
“I was laughing at Clint Eastwood. Look, to have him get up and speak on my behalf was a great thrill,” Romney said. “You don’t expect to have a guy like Clint Eastwood get up and, you know, read some speech of a teleprompter like a politician. You expect him to speak from the heart and that’s exactly what he did.”
Romney also said that former president Bill Clinton’s address to the Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, elevated it in “a lot of ways.” He also jokingly said that if “the constitution weren’t this way,” Clinton could “perhaps” be elected president today.
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