Well, I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform. 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. (Mitt Romney, on yesterday's Meet the Press)
This is breaking news from the Fictional News Service. We're here with Gov. Romney, who has called a press conference to explain his new thinking on health care reform. Fresh off his interview with NBC's David Gregory over the weekend, Romney seems to be transitioning his campaign into "Etch A Sketching" some of his past policy positions. One might wonder about the timing of such a move, coming as it does after the Republican National Convention, where any hint of deviance from the hardcore conservative line would likely not have received too warm a welcome from the crowd.
Gov. Romney has now appeared and has opened up the floor to questions about his new plans for health care reform. We now take you to the podium, live.
"OK, who has the first question?"
"Mr. Romney, can you explain what your new health care plan will look like to the American people?"
"Certainly. First and foremost, we're going to call our new plan the 'Ronald Reagan Deficit-Reducing Health Care Reform Act.' The American public can't stand Obamacare, and we are fully ready to replace it with our new act. Because the initials don't really spell anything, we're going to refer to it as 'Ronniecare' to make it less of a mouthful."
"But what will actually be included in this... um... Ronniecare, sir?"
"The first thing we've learned is that people actually like having their children covered on their parents' health insurance up to age 25, so we're going to include that. We're calling this portion of the new plan the 'Republican Family-First Health Insurance' provision. Secondly, we're also sensitive to the concerns of the American public that we don't go back to the days when insurance companies could refuse people health insurance based on a preexisting condition, so everyone will be able to purchase health insurance, no matter their medical past."
"How will either of those be different from what is contained within Obamacare?"
"Well, they won't be different. Under the Republican Family-First Health Insurance plan, just like under Obamacare, young adults will be covered under their parents' plans. We're already seeing data indicating that millions of young adults are already benefiting from this idea, so we think it's a good one to continue. Also, with Ronniecare in place, it will no longer be possible for insurance companies to refuse coverage to people with preexisting conditions."
"What are some of the other provisions in your new plan that are similar to Obamacare, Mr. Romney?"
"We conducted extensive polling and determined that seniors are very enthusiastic about how Obamacare is closing the so-called 'donut-hole' in their costs for prescription drugs under Medicare, so we're going to keep that in there, as well."
"But that's a rather expensive provision. How will you be paying for that?"
"There's a clause in Ronniecare that Paul Ryan helped write that will pay for this expansion, which we like to call the 'End Waste in Medicare' plan. It will reap savings of $716 billion in 10 years, and it will do so without changing the benefits for seniors one bit. We will end waste in the Medicare program and use those savings to pay for closing the prescription drug donut hole."
"But isn't that the same thing that you've been running ads attacking President Obama about?"
"Well, you've got to remember that Paul Ryan has been planning on that $716 billion in savings all along. That's why he included it in his budget plan. So we feel we're actually being consistent on this."
"Won't Ronniecare be hideously expensive for the federal government, though? You talk of all these things people will be expecting from your plan, but they all sound like they're going to cost a lot of money."
"You know, when we looked at the actual numbers, we found out that if we just repealed Obamacare and went back to the status quo before Obamacare passed, it would actually add hundreds of billions to the deficit. This is why we included 'Deficit-Reduction' in the name of the bill, because if this bill doesn't pass, America will wind up paying a lot more for health insurance down the road."
"But what about the more contentious parts of Obamacare? What about, for example, the 'death panels' that Republicans screamed about during the Obamacare debate?"
"That's another thing that was eye-opening for us. When we sat down with the actual text of Obamacare, we couldn't find the death panels at all. I know, total surprise, right? But when Sarah Palin talked about how her child would have to go before a board of bureaucrats who decided whether his life was worth living or not, it turns out she was totally mistaken. There's nothing in there like that at all! You could have knocked me over with a feather when we found this out. I mean, we read the whole thing a number of times, since we figured we just missed it somehow, but I can tell you straight-up: The death panels just don't exist. So of course we won't have any death panels in Ronniecare, either."
"Fair enough, but what about the most contentions provision of all: the individual mandate? Your health plan in Massachusetts had such a mandate, complete with tax penalties, but since then you've said you're against such a plan. So, will Ronniecare have an individual mandate?"
"Look: We think that the term is a bad one to be using. Instead, we're going to take the Republican Party back to what used to be a bedrock idea for us: personal responsibility. In fact, we're now calling this the Heritage Foundation Personal Responsibility Citizens' Duty rather than some sort of 'mandate' or another."
"Excuse me, what was that name? Heritage Foundation...?"
"The Heritage Foundation Personal Responsibility Citizens' Duty, named for the organization that originally proposed that we stop freeloaders in the system. Republicans have never been for anyone getting any sort of free ride, and that's exactly what people who don't buy health insurance have been getting. All the responsible Americans who purchased health care were essentially paying for those who didn't have it, in the form of higher premiums. We're going to end this, with a plan devised by the very conservative Heritage Foundation, thus making sure that all citizens do their duty to show personal responsibility in life and not freeload off the rest of us."
"How does this Heritage Personal Responsibility plan differ any from the individual mandate and tax penalty contained within Obamacare?"
"Well, rather than being part of Obamacare, it is the Heritage Foundation Personal Responsibility Citizen's Duty. I'd say that was a pretty big difference right there."
"So you're saying it's no different, it's just going to have a new name?"
"I don't think you really understand how important it is to get these things right. Ronald Reagan was for personal responsibility. Ronald Reagan would love proposals offered up by the Heritage Foundation. Of that you can be sure. Ronald Reagan would not have supported death panels. Ronald Reagan was very pro-family. We feel certain that the Gipper would have been proud to have his name attached to the Ronald Reagan Deficit-Reducing Health Care Reform Act."
"Excuse me, sir, but it still sounds like just a change in name, with no difference in substance."
"Well, our polling among both Republican voters and independents shows that folks would really get behind something called Ronniecare, and are still seriously opposed to anything named Obamacare. Even when we explained that it'll be exactly the same law, we still found overwhelming support among conservatives and other voters for Ronniecare instead of Obamacare."
"So you admit that there will be no actual changes in the law, Mr. Romney, between Obamacare and Ronniecare?"
"You just contradicted yourself right there. We feel it's an enormous change to proudly support Ronniecare instead of the misguided Obamacare. I will work from my first day in office as president to fully repeal Obamacare and replace it with Ronniecare. That is a promise you can count on."
Follow Chris Weigant on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ChrisWeigant