Reading these statements in succession lays bare the difficult position Republicans are in on health care. Americans overwhelmingly want people with preexisting conditions to have some way of getting medical insurance, and many worry about one day being in that category themselves.
Contrary to statement number two above, however, the free market doesn't provide for policies of this kind (at least not that anyone can afford). No surprise there. That just isn't how insurance works.
Thus Team Romney's desire to interfere in the free market.
Yuval Levin fleshes out how anti-Obama-care wonks think about pre-existing conditions:
Pre-existing condition exclusions have been illegal in the
employer-based insurance market (where the vast majority of privately
insured people get their coverage) since the mid-1990s, so they only
affect people who are in the individual market or who have gone without
insurance for a time. Even in those situations, such exclusions are
prohibited in many instances, and are not practiced by insurers in most
others, though not all. About 2 to 4 million people are estimated to be
vulnerable to such exclusions (though not all of them are in
circumstances that mean they actually experience them). That's roughly
1 percent of the population.
That doesn't mean their problem is unimportant (or
that other people shouldn't be worried about finding themselves in that
group in the future), but rather it means that it can be solved without
spending $2 trillion, raising taxes by nearly a trillion, taking $716
billion out of Medicare to fund a new unsustainable entitlement,
imposing layers upon layers of new bureaucracies and regulations between
people and their medical care, causing millions of families to lose the
coverage they have now, and undermining employment, investment, and
Whatever you think of his various claims about Obamacare, he's right that the pre-existing condition provision is but one part of a sweeping bill. But who has the better policy on the narrow issue of preexisting conditions, as opposed to the larger issue of health policy generally? Obama's approach is easier to understand and won't exclude anyone with a pre-existing condition because at some point they let their insurance coverage lapse. You can see the appeal.
But isn't that approach an intrusion into the free market?
Well, yes. And Republicans would normally lean on that argument. The reason I say they're at a disadvantage in health-care policy is because their own position implicitly presumes that the free market is inadequate. Prohibiting discrimination against folks with continuous coverage is, as anyone can see, an instance of government telling private industry what sorts of policies it can sell.
That isn't to say there's no argument for the Romney approach to preexisting conditions. But it's a complicated case to make, and a departure from the only case that any Republicans speaking to a general audience ever make on health care: that Obamacare is Big Government run amok. In the future, this subject will get even more thorny, because advanced genetic testing will be able to tell us more and more, earlier and earlier, about the illnesses someone is likely to get years later in life. That boon for anticipatory medicine will be a blow to the private insurance model for financing health care, which Republicans are a lot more wedded to than Democrats.