Romney’s health plan can’t work

Well, Mitt Romney sure cleared things up about where he stands on health care reform.

On last Sunday’s “Meet the Press” program, Romney told a national television audience that he liked parts of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and that he pledged to keep them if elected.

“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 ... family up to whatever age they might like.”

If we are to believe the GOP nominee, Romneycare’s version of Obamacare is to keep its most important provisions, but – as his campaign handlers were quick to point out in a press release after the show – without the individual mandate and without guaranteeing that anyone could actually buy insurance that covers pre-existing conditions.

The release said, “In a competitive environment, the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is a demand for.”

It’s all very confusing, because Romney has been crystal clear since he started campaigning more than a year ago that he would repeal Obamacare on his first day in office.

And no one knows better than Mitt Romney that it’s the mandate that makes the popular features of health care reform possible.

As governor of Massachusetts, he imposed an “individual mandate” that required everyone to have insurance. Romneycare – the Massachusetts version – subsidized low-income people and anyone with pre-existing conditions.

Insurance companies are not going to voluntarily give insurance to people with pre-existing conditions, because it is a losing proposition. Nor will they provide insurance for family members “up to whatever age they might like,” as a favor to Mitt Romney.

Without a mandate, young and healthy people – know as free-riders – won’t buy insurance until they need it, skewing the system, and draining the profits of insurance companies. It just won’t happen.