Be wary when Mitt Romney says he’ll continue part of Obamacare

Presidential hopeful Gov. Mitt Romney raised a lot of eyebrows Sunday because, though he’d be the first to slash Obamacare if elected president, he isn’t averse to parts of incumbent Barack Obama’s health care reform — namely, covering those with pre-existing conditions and extending coverage to children up to any age.

Romney made an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” discussing a whole slew of topics, when the conversation followed up on his stance on health care in America.

“Well, I’m not getting rid of all of 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. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their — their family up to whatever age they might like. I also want individuals to be able to buy insurance, health insurance, on their own as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company.”

Romney’s support for some form of health care reform is nothing new because he instituted similar reforms in Massachusetts as governor. His statements, however, make him appear bipartisan, willing to “walk across the aisle” and find a way to compromise on even the main tenets of the reform. But there are underlying differences between what both candidates promise in their health care plans, especially when it comes to people with pre-existing conditions.

The Affordable Care Act, Obama’s health care reform, largely upheld by the Supreme Court in July, makes it so that health insurance companies are prohibited from denying a person coverage if he or she has a pre-existing condition.

Conversely, the Romney campaign followed up his interview Sunday with two clarifications. First: “In a competitive environment, the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for. He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features.”

Second: “Gov. Romney will ensure that discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage is prohibited.”

The differences seem slight, but these nuances are critical for the groups of people who seek insurance but may be turned away because of their health. According to a “January 2011 report”:http://healthreform.kff.org/en/scan/2011/january/hhs-report-examines-preexisting-conditions-in-the-us-population.aspx by Health and Human Services, 25 million of the 50 million to 129 million nonelderly Americans whom health insurance companies identify as having a pre-existing condition remain uninsured.

For Romney to put forward a more moderate, bipartisan comment in the throes of campaign season is a smart move to garner support from those of the other side, but by no means does this mean he’s going to lower the knife he has at Obamacare’s gut.