(WASHINGTON) — Mitt Romney this week has been highlighting his opposition to Obamacare, telling voters and donors of his eagerness to see the U.S. Supreme Court strike the law down and a willingness to do the deed from the White House if the court does not.
“You know, regardless of what they do, it’s going to be up to the next president to…repeal and replace Obamacare,” Romney told a crowd in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday.
But it’s Romney’s unabashed public opposition to one of the law’s most popular provisions — a ban on health insurance company discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions — that is once again stirring the political pot.
The former governor said this week, reiterating a position he’s articulated in the past, that only Americans who have had constant, uninterrupted insurance coverage should be guaranteed access to a health plan, regardless of any pre-existing conditions.
Asked to clarify his position on Wednesday, Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul confirmed that the former governor does not support the across-the-board consumer protections for pre-existing conditions as written into Democrats’ health care law.
“Governor Romney supports reforms to protect those with pre-existing conditions from being denied access to a health plan while they have continuous coverage,” she said first in a statement to the Huffington Post later obtained by ABC News.
As for Americans with pre-existing conditions who may not have had continuous insurance coverage or spent a period of time without it, Saul said Romney “supports reforms that empower states to make high risk pools more accessible by using cost reducing methods like risk adjustment and reinsurance,” but suggested there would be no guarantees.
“Beginning on his first day in office, Governor Romney is committed to working with Congress to enact polices like these that protect Americans’ access to the care they need,” she added.
Democrats have seized on the position to cast the former Massachusetts governor, who authored a landmark state health law that mandated individual insurance coverage, as grossly out of touch.
“Mitt Romney just clarified the choice in this election — he’d put insurance companies back in charge,” said deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter. “People living with pre-existing conditions from asthma to breast cancer are on their own if Mitt Romney is elected president and millions more would lose their health insurance.”
Romney’s position — protecting people with pre-existing conditions so long as they’ve always had insurance — has been law since 1996, experts say. It does not immediately address people who have never had private health insurance, or who have had insurance but spent some time without, often because of financial circumstances and unemployment.
The governor believes in an incremental, market-based solution to boosting coverage and helping states develop ways to help those with difficulty obtaining insurance or care.
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Eric Bradner, Jeff Zeleny and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN
Ruth Brown and Lis Stewart, Idaho Press-Tribune
Theodore Schleifer, CNN