Presidential Wannabe Mitt Romney famously said, “I like being able to fire people.” And it is perfectly clear that the quote was taken out of context:
I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep people healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. If someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I’m going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me.
But if the media would look a little more closely at Romney’s comment, they’d see an unholy mix of lies, deception and half-truths in the full quote. As well as a glimpse to Romney’s mind-set at this point in the campaign. WC will undertake his own examination.
- Romney seems to be implying that the Affordable Care Act prevents people from firing their insurer. That’s simply untrue. Romney, of all people, knows it is untrue because the Affordable Care Act is based on the Massachusetts health care plan, which was supported and signed into law by Romney. There are lots of reasons why a prudent patient might not want to fire their insurer; some of them are discussed below. But Romney is intentionally misleading voters, and he knows he is.
- Romney seems to also be implying that individuals don’t get their own insurance under the Affordable Care Act. For better or worse, a sole-provder system was never seriously considered. The Affordable Care Act specifically preserves the right of an individual to shop for insurance. Again, this is the Massachusetts plan, the plan Romney sponsored; the plan Romney signed into law. He absolutely knows the Affordable Care Act doesn’t impair patient choice. He’s lying again.
- Romney implies that the insurance market has no restrictions on entry; that is, that a patient can change insurers without running into financial or other barriers. That might be true if your income if $26 million a year. But if you have a pre-existing condition, you don’t date fire your insurer, because, until the Affordable Care Act, you wouldn’t be able to find another insurer to provide you with coverage. Let’s suppose you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and the insurer you have is screwing you around. Can you “fire” your insurer and “get somebody else to provide that service to me”? Not a chance. No insurer is going to touch you with a barge pole. Sure, if you offer them enough money they might condescend to insure you. But most of us don’t have that kind of money. Romney knows all this. But it serves his purpose to pretend it doesn’t exist; it serves his purposes to lie.
- Many of us – about 45% – as far as WC can tell – get our health insurance through our employer. We have little or no choice in who our employer selects as our insurer. The only way we employees can “fire our insurer” is by quitting our jobs. Of course, Mitt Romney is famously unemployed, and the poor boy has to make do with annual installment payments of $26 million from Bain Capital. Mitt knows employers select insurers, not employees. It’s deeply disingenuous, at best, for him to imply otherwise.
- Romney seems to believe that all insurance markets have as many health insurers as, say, Massachusetts. There are states with smaller populations where there are only a very few insurers. Like Alaska, where Premera/Blue Cross completely dominates the market. You can’t fire Blue Cross, because there is no one else. Sure, you can “fire” Blue Cross, but that’s a false choice because effectively there is no one else. And the Republicans’ claims that state regulators impose barriers to market entry is again, untrue. If there was money to be made, the insurers would be here. And if the Republicans are claiming that the health insurance industry needs less regulation and not more, they are dangerously delusional. And have never had to deal with an Explanation of Benefits, or, as WC prefers, a Nonexplanation of Nonpayment of No Benefits.
So when you really examine that statement giving rise to the quasi-gaffe, it turns out to be more troubling that the quasi-gaffe itself. There’s a conscious , intentional pattern of deception.
And WC won’t even go down the path of quotes taken out of context, or mention an infamous instance of Romney taking President Obama’s words out of context.
And if they’ll lie to you now, how can you trust them if they get elected?