Leno Makes Romney Confess Plan to Screw the Sick

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Vee haff vays of making you talk, Meester Romney. Photo: Paul Drinkwater

Republicans have been trying not to just come out and admit that their plan is to let tens of millions of Americans go without health insurance, but their obfuscations are having less and less success. Mitch McConnell pretty much admitted it straight out to Ramesh Ponnuru. Mitt Romney has been dancing around it by promising that “individuals with preexisting conditions who have maintained continuous health insurance coverage should be guaranteed the ability to retain coverage.” Note the proviso at the end about maintaining continuous coverage. We’ve actually had a law protecting people who maintain continuous coverage since 1996. It obviously doesn’t do very much.

Greg Sargent notes that Romney’s weasely formulation was penetrated by, of all people, Jay Leno:

LENO: So you would make the law stand for children and people with preexisting conditions.

ROMNEY: People with preexisting conditions — as long as they’ve been insured before, they’re going to continue to have insurance.

LENO: Suppose they were never insured?

ROMNEY: Well, if they’re 45 years old, and they show up, and they say, I want insurance, because I’ve got a heart disease, it’s like, 'Hey guys, we can’t play the game like that.' You’ve got to get insurance when you’re well, and if you get ill, then you’re going to be covered.

LENO: I know guys at work in the auto industry, and they’re just not covered ... they’ve just never been able to get insurance. And then they get to 30, 35, and were never able to get insurance before. Now they have it. That seems like a good thing.

ROMNEY: We’ll look at a circumstance where someone was ill, and hasn’t been insured so far. But people who have had the chance to be insured — if you’re working in an auto business for instance, the companies carry insurance, they insure all their employees — you look at the circumstances that exist. But people who have done their best to get insured, are going to be able to be covered. But you don’t want everyone saying, 'I’m going to sit back until I get sick and then go buy insurance.’ That doesn’t make sense. But you have to find rules that get people in that are playing by the rules.

So, yeah, Romney’s plan seems to be to hide behind the “continuous coverage” caveat and hope nobody notices he is basically defending the status quo. As Frank Rich notes, if Jay Leno is breaking down your evasions, they may not hold up as well as you would hope.