Mitt Romney, who is expected to be the Republican nominee for president, doesn’t usually talk about health care in his campaign stump speeches. Tuesday, at Con-Air Industries in Orlando, Florida, he blasted the 2010 federal health law and outlined what he would do if elected president.
Here is a transcript of the health care portion of the speech:
MITT ROMNEY: Now just yesterday, the president said something else that shows just how much out of touch he is. He said he didn’t understand that Obamacare was hurting small business. He doesn’t understand that Obamacare impacts small business and you have to scratch your head about that because about a year ago, the Chamber of Commerce did a survey of some 1,500 small businesses, and of those small businesses, three-quarters—75 percent—said Obamacare made it less likely for them to hire people.
It is having an impact on middle-income families that want to have good jobs. We also found out that 30 percent of employers in this country plan on dropping people once Obamacare is put in place—dropping them from their health care plan.
And then there were some other revelations about Obamacare. Instead of costing a trillion dollars, it’s going to cost $2 trillion. It’s not only bad policy, and bad for middle-income families, and bad for small business, it’s simply unaffordable and so the right course for us is to make sure that the next president of the United States repeals Obamacare and replaces Obamacare.
The president needs to get in touch with what’s happening in the private sector; what’s happening with middle-income families and the damage that’s being done by the specter of Obamacare, and the taxes that it already charges to businesses in the health care sector.
Now I know the Supreme Court is about to make a decision with regards to Obamacare, and I have right here in my pocket what they’re going to say. Actually, I don’t know what they’re going to do. But you know, regardless of what they do, it’s going to be up to the next president to either repeal and replace Obamacare or to replace Obamacare.
And I intend to do both, if I’m the president at a time when the Supreme Court has left Obamacare in place, I will repeal it on day one by sending out a waiver to all 50 states to keep them from having to pursue Obamacare.
Now if I’m able to repeal it—or if the Supreme Court is able to get that job done for us—we want to replace it. And I want to mention to you a number of things I would put in place with which to replace Obamacare.
Number one: The uninsured. Right now the uninsured are cared for at the state level. Each state has its own program for dealing with those that are uninsured. Some send uninsured people to clinics for care, others send them to emergency rooms.
What I would do is keep—as we have today—state responsibility for those that are uninsured. You see I believe in the 10th Amendment. I believe the states have responsibility to care for their people in the way they feel best. But to help states care for their own uninsured, I would take the Medicaid dollars that comes with all sorts of strings attached today, send them back to the states along with something known as the DSH money, and let states care for their own people in the way they think best. That—in my view—is the best way to care for the uninsured.
And states will learn from each other, and some will have good experiences and others will not. That’s happening even today and states are learning and trying new ways to care for the uninsured. It’s important for us in my view to make sure that every American has access to good health care.
There are other things I’d do. I want to get health care to act more like a consumer market, meaning like the things we deal with every day in our lives: The purchases of tires, of automobiles, of air filters, of all sorts of products. Consumer markets tend to work very well—keep the costs down and the quality up.
So how would I do that on health care? Well right now, most people get their insurance through their employer and the reason they do that is because their employer gets a tax deduction when they buy insurance for you. But if you’re a very small-business person—let’s say a one-person business—you don’t get a tax deduction for buying insurance. And if you’re an individual that’s not employed, you don’t get a tax deduction for buying your own insurance.
What I would do is level the playing field and say individuals can buy insurance on the same tax advantage basis that businesses can buy insurance.
I also want to make sure that people can’t get dropped if they have a preexisting condition. What I mean by that—so let’s say someone has been continuously insured and they develop a serious condition, and let’s say they lose their job or they change jobs, they move and they go to a new place. I don’t want them to be denied insurance because they’ve got some preexisting condition. So, we’re going to have to make sure that the law we replace Obamacare with assures that people who have a preexisting condition—who’ve been insured in the past are able to get insurance in the future—don’t have to worry about that condition keeping them from getting the kind of health care they deserve.
And I want these individuals and businesses to be able to buy insurance across state lines to get the best deal they can get anywhere in the country. And I wanted to be able to join associations of like types of organizations so they can get bargaining power, purchasing power, and get insurance at a reasonable rate.
We can get health care to act more like a consumer market, and if we do that and we stop making it like big government managed utility, we’re going to see better prices, lower costs and better care. It’s happened everywhere we’ve applied consumer market principles. Free enterprise is the way America works—we need to apply that to health care.
Let me mention something else about health care, and that’s Medicare. Medicare is the health care program for our seniors, and the president did something—I think—that that surprised a lot of seniors. When they saw the president campaign four years ago, he didn’t mention to them that he was planning on cutting Medicare by $500 billion to pay for his health care plan, but that’s what he did.
And so if you have seniors that say I need someone to protect Medicare, you remind them this president was the one that cut $500 billion out of Medicare. My plan is to protect and save Medicare, to make sure it’s there not just for current seniors, but for future seniors. And my plan is this: I want people to have more choice. I want them to be able to have traditional government sponsored Medicare or private-sector Medicare provided by various companies, and let them make their choices to which one they want.
And by the way, higher-income people—I think—should get less help getting Medicare than lower-income people. I think we should care for those that need the help most and let them choose the private or public system they prefer. I think choice is the right course in Medicare.
Matthew Fleming contributed.