ORLANDO, Fla. – Anticipating the death of President Obamas health care overhaul, Mitt Romney outlined his plans Tuesday to expand coverage to the nations uninsured, while protecting at least one popular safeguard that would be eliminated if the Supreme Court strikes down the law.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee promised to help maintain coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions and expand tax breaks to individuals wishing to purchase health insurance directly, instead of through their employer. In some cases, his health care proposal entails turning over the problem to individual states.
With the Supreme Court ruling expected this month, the Republican presidential contender is eager to look forward and offer his own prescriptions for the health care system that voters consistently rank among their priorities. Romneys plans, however, were short on detail and raised questions about how the nations 50 million uninsured might fare under his leadership.
Romney ignored the primary strategies he pursued as governor of Massachusetts. There, he signed into law a measure that insures virtually all of its citizens by requiring insurance policies and offering subsidies to those who cant afford it.
The so-called individual mandate is at the heart of the case before the Supreme Court on the laws constitutionality.
As president, Romneys plan to cover the nations uninsured involves sending federal Medicaid dollars directly to states, allowing each state government to address the situation in its own way.
Let states care for their own people in the way they think best. That, in my view, is the best way to care for the uninsured, Romney said.
The Romney campaign said states would receive Medicaid funding increases every single year, but he would not detail the extent of the increases, which are unlikely to cover the additional cost of providing insurance subsidies to millions of Americans as Obamas plan would.
Cash-strapped states often look to cut health care programs for the poor or low-income to help balance their budgets.
The Romney campaign said states would benefit from billions of dollars saved by streamlining the Medicaid process and eliminating fraud.
Obamas re-election campaign has been aggressively touting the benefits of the health care law and says it expects the Supreme Court to uphold the overhaul.
Romney said any law that replaced Obamas should prevent insurance companies from dropping people with pre-existing conditions. He did not address the provision that allows people to stay on their parents health insurance until they turn 26.
Romney also said he would level the playing field and give individuals tax breaks currently offered to employers to buy health insurance directly.
But he made clear that his first priority would be to do away with the health care law.
If Im the president at a time that the Supreme Court has left ObamaCare in place, I will repeal it on Day 1 by sending out a waiver to all 50 states, Romney said.