Wash. Post's Jennifer Rubin Pushes Lie That Romney Health Care Plan Covers Pre-Existing Conditions

Blog ››› ››› DAVID SHERE

Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin falsely claimed that Republican candidate Mitt Romney's health care plan always included a provision insuring that those with pre-existing conditions are not denied insurance coverage. In fact, this is the exact opposite of what the Romney campaign has said.

In a recent study, the Government Accountability Office found that "between 36 and 122 million adults reported medical conditions that could result in a health insurer restricting coverage."

This is why one of the major features of the Affordable Care Act is its requirement that insurance companies not deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The ACA prohibits insurers in the private individual market from denying coverage, charging higher-than-average premiums, or restricting coverage to individuals based on the individual's health status.

During the first presidential debate, Romney claimed that his health care plan includes protections for pre-existing conditions. But as CNN reported following the debate, top Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom clarified that this protection only applied to people who already had health insurance, not those seeking health insurance for the first time. Fehrnstrom added:

"We will give the state initiatives and money so that they can manage these decisions on their own. But, of course, we'd like them to see them continue that pre-existing band for those who have continuous coverage."

PolitiFact evaluated Romney's claim following the debate that his plan insured coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and found it "mostly false."

But on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown, Rubin stated that Romney's "plan always covered pre-existing issues."

When PolitiFact evaluated Romney's claim that his plan insured coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, it concluded that the statement was "mostly false," writing:

Romney said his health care proposals include protections for pre-existing conditions What he didn't say at the debate -- but which his website states and advisers confirmed after the debate -- is that people would be protected from denial only if they have been continuously insured.

The health care law, though, offers protections whether people have current coverage or not, so it offers more robust protection. The law also includes a requirement that everyone have insurance or pay a tax penalty. Romney's plan doesn't have that requirement.

Romney did not mention the qualifier that people have to stay insured to get the protection. That's a significant omission. We rate his statement Mostly False.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, "Health-policy specialists say Romney's plan echoes such protection already in a 1996 U.S. law and doesn't show how it would help at least 36 million sick people at risk of being denied coverage."

In its study, GAO reported that more than two-thirds of adults with pre-existing conditions live in states that have no insurance protections like those put in place in the Affordable Care Act:

The estimated number of adults with pre-existing conditions varies by state, but most individuals, 88-89 percent depending on the list of pre-existing conditions included, live in states that do not report having insurance protections similar to those in PPACA. Compared to others, adults with pre-existing conditions spend thousands of dollars more annually on health care, but pre-existing conditions are common across all family income levels.

GAO also reported: "Certain groups had higher rates of pre-existing conditions than others, including women, whites, and those with public insurance. Compared to others, adults with pre-existing conditions spend thousands of dollars more annually on health care, but pre-existing conditions are common across all family income levels."

This is at least the second time this week that Rubin has made demonstrably false statements while defending Romney. On CNN's Reliable Sources, she claimed President Obama was not referring to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi when he used the term "acts of terror" in his September 12 comments addressing the incident. 

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Jennifer Rubin
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