“No. 1,” declared Mitt Romney in Wednesday’s debate, “pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” No, they aren’t — as Mr. Romney’s own advisers have conceded in the past, and did again after the debate.
Was Mr. Romney lying? Well, either that or he was making what amounts to
a sick joke. Either way, his attempt to deceive voters on this issue
was the biggest of many misleading and/or dishonest claims he made over
the course of that hour and a half. Yes, President Obama did a notably
bad job of responding. But I’ll leave the theater criticism to others
and talk instead about the issue that should be at the heart of this
So, about that sick joke: What Mr. Romney actually proposes is that
Americans with pre-existing conditions who already have health coverage
be allowed to keep that coverage even if they lose their job — as long
as they keep paying the premiums. As it happens, this is already the law
of the land. But it’s not what anyone in real life means by having a
health plan that covers pre-existing conditions, because it applies only
to those who manage to land a job with health insurance in the first
place (and are able to maintain their payments despite losing that job).
Did I mention that the number of jobs that come with health insurance
has been steadily declining over the past decade?