Can Romney Do What He Says?


Click the button to view one of Mitt Romney’s stump speeches.

With the presidential election approaching, I really do not care which candidate is elected.  After the last 4 years I believe the old proverb that you can tell if a politician is lying if their lips are moving.

I don’t feel that President Obama is a bad man or has even been a bad president.  However, I have seen other presidents in my life that I feel have done a better job.  I think he takes too much credit for what others have done.  He also has forgotten that the role of the president is to enforce the laws that are made by congress and not try to make law of his own.

I do not think that Mitt Romney is much different from the current president we have.  Both men are obviously ambitious and are willing to say anything they believe will get them elected.

The only difference is that we already know what kind of president Obama is.  We do not know what we would get with a President Romney.  Things could be better, worse or more of the same.  We will never know unless we are willing to give him a chance.

In the accompanying video, Mr. Romney outlines what he plans to do about health care.  Below are my thoughts about his plans.

1. REPEAL OBAMACARE

Although this plan sounds like a nice thing to say on the political campaign, no president has the ability to repeal a law that was passed by congress.  A President Romney could focus, like his predecessor did, on coercing a law through congress but he does not have the authority to act on his own to repeal any law.

He does, however, have the power of Executive Order granting states a waiver from the PPACA until the law is repealed by both houses of congress.

2.  THE UNINSURED

Romney speaks about the issues of the un-insured.  His plan is to force the states to use the Money that is given to them through Medicaid to find insurance for those in poverty.  The only difference, at least verbally, between what Obamacare is doing and what Romney is proposing is the amount of control the federal Department of Health and Human Services would have.  Rather than a Secretary of Health and Human Services who wants to micro-manage everything to do with health care, he would act more like Captain Picard in Star Trek.  He would give the states federal money for health care for the poor and say, “Make it so!”

3.  TAX DEDUCTIONS

I own The Insurance Barn.  As a business owner, I am able to claim my health insurance as a tax deduction.  Unfortunately, that benefit is not available to people who must buy an individual Major Medical policy because they are an employee of a small business that does not offer group health insurance.  Under the current tax system, premiums are only deductible to business owners and not to employees.

Mr. Romney claims that he would extend the tax deduction to everyone.  That sound wonderful but it would be impossible.  Congress, and not the president, has the ability to make tax law according to the U.S. Constitution.   If either the House of Representatives or the Senate does not concur with his tax plan, it will never happen.

Mr. Romney would be wise to review presidential politics.  Specifically, he should read daddy Bush’s lips.  Although he promised, “No new taxes” during his presidential election, after he was elected, congress showed him who was really in control of taxes.

4.   CONTINUED COVERAGE

Mr. Romney says that he wants to make certain that people who have had health insurance for a long time, “can’t be dropped just because they have a pre-existing condition” and either lose their job or elect to change jobs.

There is already a federal law that addresses most of these issues.  COBRA was passed during the Clinton Administration.  Rather than an entirely new law and the accompanying rhetorical nightmare it brings, a new president and congress could quietly take care of this concern by tweaking COBRA to require a group plan to guarantee health insurance to a person who leaves a group regardless of their health.  It also would need to remove the time limitations that current COBRA law has.

Such a law should be able to be written on 3 pages or less.  It should not require 906, single spaced, pages.

5.  CROSS STATE LINES

An idea that was popular during the Health Care Reform debates was to allow people to purchase a lower cost health insurance policy from a different state.  On the surface, that sounds like a wonderful idea.

The problem is that insurance laws and mandates are not the same from state to state.  Until there is a federal department of insurance or similar federal department to regulate interstate insurance, there is no consistent authority that a consumer can appeal to if there is a problem.

Currently, some states, like Georgia, allow people to buy health insurance from a neighboring state but none have been sold across state lines.  Health insurance companies are leery to allow the practice when there is no regulatory body to tell them what must be covered and what is optional.

Neither Romney nor Obama would be able to form a federal insurance regulatory body on their own.  Again, that would have to be done by an act of Congress.

6.  PURCHASING ASSOCIATIONS

Mr. Romney floats the idea of allowing businesses to combine to form “Purchasing Associations” to allow them to combine several employers to give them the same negotiating power that large businesses have.

What he does not say is that some states have already experimented with the idea and finds that it does not work as well as one would like.  The state in which I live allows multiple employers to band together for health insurance.

Unfortunately, it tends towards the phenomenon known as “Adverse Selection.” As premiums continue to increase, those groups that are made up of relatively healthy employees leave to get health insurance that is less expensive.  After a few years, Purchasing Associations are left with groups that are less healthy but are trapped with higher premiums.

Without freezing the price of health insurance or medical care, Purchasing Associations have proven that they are not a long-term solution.

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