One Percent Honesty

Krugman’s right: in the grand scale of things, Romney’s repetition last night of the lie that his “health care plan” takes care of people with pre-existing conditions was more egregious than anything else he said (with the possible exception of his expressed determination to sit down with Democrats and work out compromises, which would lead Republicans to seek his impeachment if he actually pursued it).

But Romney on pre-existing conditions is kind of like Romney on universal access to health care. As he said recently, it’s technically true most Americans can get treatment for acute conditions in hospital emergency rooms. If that’s your idea of “health care,” then he’s right. Similarly, people with pre-existing conditions who have insurance and don’t let it lapse (a qualifier Romney did not bother to mention last night, though Obama did) have the right under current law to try to buy a crappy HIPAA policy at exorbitant costs, assuming they can afford it.

Mitt’s advisors, who remain a very important resource in telling us what Mitt actually means when he tells lies about his policy proposals, also suggested that Mitt’s proud of Massachusetts’ ban on pre-existing condition exclusions, and thinks other states should do otherwise. Trouble is, Mitt’s also proposing interstate health insurance sales, which would almost certainly force consumers everywhere to buy policies from states with little or no regulation of pre-existing condition exclusions or anything else (a point Obama, to his great credit, actually tried to make, though very murkily). Repealing Obamacare and then strongly encouraging states to cut Medicaid benefits and eligibility provides the uninsured or uninsurable a final kick to the curb, in case anyone wants to know what Romney really thinks of their plight. He can’t hide behind tiny shreds of truth forever.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.