Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday insisted that President Barack Obama's health care reform law should be overturned and that people with preexisting conditions should be denied coverage if they had never had insurance before.
During an appearance on NBC's Tonight Show, host Jay Leno told Romney that he knew people that had never been able to get insurance before "Obamacare" was passed.
"It seems to me like children and people with preexisting conditions should be covered," Leno noted.
"People with preexisting conditions — as long as they’ve been insured before, they’re going to continue to have insurance," Romney explained.
"Suppose they were never insured?" Leno asked.
"Well, if they’re 45 years old, and they show up, and they say, I want insurance, because I’ve got a heart disease, it’s like, `Hey guys, we can’t play the game like that. You’ve got to get insurance when you’re well, and if you get ill, then you’re going to be covered,'" Romney replied.
"I know guys that work in the auto industry and they're just not covered because they work in brake dust," Leno pressed. "And then they get to be 30, 35, and were never able to get insurance before. Now they have it. That seems like a good thing."
"But people who have had the chance to be insured — if you’re working in an auto business for instance, the companies carry insurance, they insure all their employees — you look at the circumstances that exist," the candidate explained. "But you don’t want everyone saying, `I’m going to sit back until I get sick and then go buy insurance.’ That doesn’t make sense. But you have to find rules that get people in that are playing by the rules."
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent pointed out that by passing health insurance mandates in Massachusetts, Romney had acknowledged that people should get coverage when they are well, but he had since moved further to the right in an effort to win the GOP presidential primary.
"So he’s forced to give a nonsensical answer to the core policy and moral question that’s left behind if we do away with Obamacare: What should the federal government do about those who can’t get insurance covarge, thanks to preexisting conditions?" Sargent wrote.
"Until Romney details otherwise, his answer, for all practical purposes, is: Nothing."
Watch this video from NBC's Tonight Show, broadcast March 27, 2012.