August 23, 2013

That's Mitt Romney in 2010 talking about the "socialist" health care plan for the uninsured. It's pretty simple and certainly doesn't take up thousands of pages. If you're uninsured, just head on over to the emergency room, and taxpayers will cover the cost. Romney called that out as being "socialist."

Which is why I was shocked Thursday to hear Jim DeMint's rollout of conservatives' alternative to the ACA:

Heritage president and former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint continued his campaign to convince Republicans to shut down the government in a ploy to defund the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday, telling a town hall in Tampa, Florida that “This might be that last off-ramp to stop Obamacare before it becomes more enmeshed in our culture.” The law “is not about getting better health care,” he continued. Uninsured Americans “will get better health care just going to the emergency room.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the Tea Party replacement for Obamacare is the emergency room. The emergency room care which must be provided to stabilize but not treat illness and injury on a long-term basis.

As ThinkProgress observed, this is a huge turnaround from the Jim DeMint of 2008, who believed with his whole heart that private insurance policies were a better way to go, at least until the black guy in the White House agreed.

“That’s something that I think we should do for the whole country,” DeMint told Fox News. “And the governor just looked at the numbers like a good businessman and realized that we could give people private insurance policies cheaper than we could provide free health care.”

DeMint isn't the only one tossing up trial balloons. Karl Rove made some predictably stupid suggestions too, in a half-hearted effort to whine that Republicans have health care ideas, too.

They are the usual packet of talking points: Allowing individuals to deduct health insurance costs on their tax returns, selling across state lines, small business co-ops, etc. Only one thing is missing from Mr. Rove's litany of GOP ideas: Covering people with pre-existing conditions.

Krugman shreds Rove, point by point.

Now comes Rove, and his big idea is to make the tax break on health coverage available to everyone, not just beneficiaries of employer plans. Great! Now employers can say “Here, we’ll eliminate your coverage, but we’ll pay you more, and you can use the money to buy tax-deductible insurance on your own!” Except that employees with preexisting conditions won’t find insurers willing to offer them affordable coverage — oh, and lower-paid workers won’t be able to afford coverage even if they’re healthy.

So Rove’s “solution” would actually have a devastating effect on millions of Americans who currently have decent coverage.

It goes on from there — the interstate competition zombie shambles on — but you get the point. Rove has nothing but the usual catchphrases, and obviously hasn’t thought for a moment about the actual issues.

Long-time readers of my health care posts know what's coming next, right?

It's about the pre-existing conditions. It has always been about the pre-existing conditions. It will continue to be about them, until 2014, when that term will be retired forever.

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