Democrats are accusing Mitt Romney of purposefully misleading on the issue of pre-existing conditions in order to win over undecided voters.
“Mitt Romney literally went on ‘Meet The Press’ and misled the American people,” Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the DNC, said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “He acted as if he supports something that he clearly does not.”
Romney said Sunday that he intends to keep parts of ‘Obamacare,’ and cited the law’s rule forbidding discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions as an example.
“I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform,” Romney said. “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.”
Romney said his Massachusetts health care law, considered the template for the Affordable Care Act, dealt with pre-existing conditions.
The Romney campaign later clarified that his position on pre-existing conditions had not changed, and that he only supports coverage for people with pre-existing conditions if they have had “continuous coverage,” according to a statement released to National Review. “[Romney’s] own plan will deal with pre-existing conditions but not in the same way that Obamacare does,” a Romney campaign aide told TPM after Romney’s interview.
Woodhouse said Romney was trying to “cover up the facts” in order to win over swing voters who agree that the law should protect people with pre-existing conditions.
“Romney, in front of an audience that included a lot of, you know, undecided voters, said he liked the Affordable Care Act’s provision that requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions and would support something similar if elected president,” Woodhouse said.
But Democrats aren’t the only one who sees Romney’s comments as a ploy to attract swing voters. Shortly after the call, Woodhouse’s claim got an unlikely boost from former Vice President Dan Quayle. Quayle tried to defend Romney against charges of flip-flopping on Fox News Monday, but ended up supporting Democrats’ charge.
“Well look, he’s going after the independents and he is going after the 10 percent that supposedly haven’t made up their mind, obviously,” Quayle said. “But is he changing his mind? Is he changing, is he flip-flopping, which a lot of his critics like to say? No. He said all along: repeal and replace.”
As Woodhouse pointed out, the difference between what Romney suggested he supports on “Meet the Press” and his official position is whether an estimated 89 million people can access coverage, according to a recent study by The Commonwealth Fund.
Though Americans have not completely warmed to the health care reform law, specific provisions in the law are very popular, including the one banning discrimination based on a pre-existing condition. Democrats play up the law’s most popular elements on the trail, and touted their implementation at their convention last week in Charlotte.
At a campaign event in Ohio Monday, Romney returned to a line of attack he’s more comfortable with: “I want to get rid of ‘Obamacare’ because it’s killing jobs.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.