Romney's Health Care Scam: 72 Million Americans Without Coverage

Mitt Romney claims he has a health care plan, but his campaign website does little more than regurgitate poll-tested Republican talking points designed to mislead voters into believing that his plan would improve their lives. In fact, it will leave 72 million Americans under the age of 65 with no health insurance coverage in ten years' time.

Though detailed evidence of Romney's health care scam is in plain sight, the workaday press, focused as it is on the presidential "horse race," has largely given Romney a free pass on what it would actually mean if Romneycare were to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or, as both sides commonly call it, Obamacare.

Following the Supreme Court's decision in June upholding the constitutionality of the ACA, Romney declared: "What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States, and that is: I will act to repeal Obamacare."

What would that mean? The independent, nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund projected that Romney's plan would leave 63.9 million Americans under age 65 without insurance by 2016; that number would rise to 72 million by 2022. Under the ACA, the number of uninsured under 65 would fall from the current level of 47.9 million to 27.1 million in 2022. As the chart below indicates, the proportion of uninsured under age 65 will be 10 percent under Obamacare versus 26 percent under Romneycare in 2022.


2012-10-29-TableofRomneyuninsured1.jpg In practical terms, that means there would be 45 million more uninsured Americans under Romney's plan ten years from now compared to the ACA.

Among the hardest hit would be many states that generally support Republican presidential and congressional candidates. The adjacent table lists the ten states that would have the highest percentage of uninsured under the age of 65 in 2022 if Romney's plan were to become law.

The Romney Plan tries to hide such ugly facts with deceptive phrasing to suggest Romney cares about the impact of his plan on his fellow Americans:

Mitt will pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens...

Mitt 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...

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.

Yet, the Commonwealth Fund's comparison of the ACA and Romney's plan exposes the hollowness of these claims and makes clear the devastation that would follow if Romneycare became the law of the land. The report deserves to be read in its entirely. Here are some relevant excerpts:

  • President Obama supports the goal of near-universal health insurance coverage, by maintaining existing private insurance markets but also instituting tighter and more standardized regulations across the country to ensure a broad choice of comprehensive health plans to all who seek coverage. ... Governor Romney, on the other hand, has not identified universal coverage as a goal.
  • On Medicare, Romney would introduce competition between private plans and traditional Medicare by providing beneficiaries with "premium support" [aka "vouchers"] to buy the plan they choose. He would also place limits on annual spending, starting in 2023, if such competition fails to bring down costs.
  • Romney's proposals to repeal the health reform law and replace it with Medicaid block grants and tax incentives to purchase individual market plans increase the percentage of uninsured children, from 12.1 percent to 21.6 percent, or 10 million uninsured children to 17.9 million.[emphasis in the original]
  • Almost all states have taken legislative or regulatory steps to implement the [ACA] law's "Patient's Bill of Rights," which went into effect in 2010 and includes a ban on the insurance company practice of rescinding, or terminating, a health insurance policy (for example, as a result of new diagnosis of illness), a ban on restrictions of lifetime or annual benefits, a ban on excluding children with a preexisting condition from enrollment, and the requirement to cover preventive care services without cost-sharing. Beginning in 2014, insurers will no longer be able to deny or restrict coverage based on preexisting health conditions, and they will be prohibited from charging higher premiums based on health status or gender. Governor Romney's proposal to repeal the law would remove these protections.

Throughout the campaign, Romney has sought to mislead the press and public about what he would do if elected president. With respect to health care, tax policy and many other issues, he appears to have largely succeeded.

In "Mitt Romney: The Great Deformer," David Stockman, who served as President Reagan's budget director for more than four and a half years, brilliantly exposes the Romney of Bain Capital as "a master financial speculator who bought, sold, flipped, and stripped businesses" and destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of American workers.

If elected president, Romney would increase his capacity to destroy not just livelihoods but the lives of millions of Americans who would suffer the consequences of Romney's callous health care scam.