“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance,” he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.”
The 60 Minutes interview shows that Romney is fully prepared to ignore the uninsured. You might recall that George Bush’s position was similar, what problem? The uninsured can always go to the emergency room. Romney is denying that federal government has responsibility in this area. The suggestion that states can do what they want is a false promise. The federal government is already heavily involved in paying for healthcare under medicare and medicaid.
It’s a clear sign that the talk of a Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act is political doubletalk. Their real position is that health care reform is basically unnecessary.
Romney did not always think this way. Back in 2007, Romney called free emergency care “socialism” and defended forcing people to pay for health insurance.
“When they show up at the hospital, they get care. They get free care paid for by you and me. If that’s not a form of socialism, I don’t know what is,” he said at the time. “So my plan did something quite different. It said, you know what? If people can afford to buy insurance … or if they can pay their own way, then they either buy that insurance or pay their own way, but they no longer look to government to hand out free care. And that, in my opinion, is ultimate conservativism.”
Reflecting back on his term as Governor of Massachusetts, he wrote in his book No Apology (this guy does not like apologies!).
After about a year of looking at data — and not making much progress — we had a collective epiphany of sorts, an obvious one, as important observations often are: the people in Massachusetts who didn’t have health insurance were, in fact, already receiving health care. Under federal law, hospitals had to stabilize and treat people who arrived at their emergency rooms with acute conditions. And our state’s hospitals were offering even more assistance than the federal government required. That meant that someone was already paying for the cost of treating people who didn’t have health insurance. If we could get our hands on that money, and therefore redirect it to help the uninsured buy insurance instead and obtain treatment in the way that the vast majority of individuals did — before acute conditions developed — the cost of insuring everyone in the state might not be as expensive as I had feared.
Of course, I have just restated the familiar Romney script of tailoring his policy views to the prevailing political winds. It’s worth remembering that only Democrats and President Obama have been willing consider the millions of uninsured a problem worth solving.