“I’m not getting rid of all health-care reform,” Romney said. “Of course there are a number of things that I like in health-care reform that I’m going to put in place.”
Romney’s promises are not altogether new. But, delivered in a major network interview at the outset of the fall campaign, they had the ring of an explicit appeal to a general-election audience, especially moderate independent voters leery of wrenching changes in their health care.
The Obama campaign disputed some of Romney’s assurances. It said that his plan would cover preexisting conditions only for the continuously insured, excluding those who have never had private coverage or who have lost it because of unemployment. People in such circumstances have been protected under federal law since 1996.
“When Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he really did have a comprehensive plan to make sure people with pre-existing conditions could get coverage, which is why his Massachusetts health reform law formed the basis for Obamacare,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Liz Smith said in a statement. “But now, he has pledged to repeal the national law modeled on his successful efforts, and has offered an inadequate plan in its place.”
Independent health-care analysts have said that Romney’s promise to retain coverage for those with preexisting conditions would be difficult to keep without enforcing the individual mandate, which the GOP opposes.
The two campaigns continued Sunday to debate the future of Medicare. Romney and vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan propose establishment of a voucher option beginning in 2023 so that seniors can buy their health insurance from private companies. They can also opt to remain in traditional Medicare.
Campaigning in Florida, President Obama cited a new study by Harvard University professor David Cutler that concludes that seniors stand to pay tens of thousands in additional health-care costs under the Romney-Ryan proposal. The study, based on data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, said the value of the vouchers would not keep pace with rising health-care costs. Seniors turning 65 in 2023 would see their Medicare costs during retirement increase by $59,500 in 2012 dollars; seniors entering Medicare in 2030 would see an increase of $124,600, according to the study.
“No American should have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies,” Obama said at a rally in Melbourne, Fla.