Romney says he'd keep parts of health law

Sept. 10, 2012 at 3:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he liked parts of President Barack Obama's U.S. healthcare overhaul and would retain them as president.

"I'm not getting rid of all of healthcare reform," Romney told NBC's "Meet the Press," breaking from a campaign pledge suggesting he would rescind Obama's entire healthcare plan on Day 1 of his presidency.

"Of course there are a number of things that I like in healthcare reform that I'm going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like.

"I also want individuals to be able to buy health insurance on their own, as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company."

These ideas, including letting families cover adult children with their policies through age 26, are part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Obama signed into law March 23, 2010.

Romney didn't say if people with pre-existing conditions would have to pay a higher premium if he were president than those without such conditions.

Obama's healthcare reform, informally called Obamacare, requires insurance companies to cover all applicants and offer the same rates, regardless of pre-existing conditions or the person's sex.

The Obama campaign said Sunday Romney's plan would cover pre-existing conditions only for the continuously insured, and exclude those who never had private coverage or who lost it because of unemployment.

The Romney campaign didn't immediately respond. The Affordable Care Act doesn't have that exclusion.

Romney also told NBC he blamed Republicans as much as Democrats for agreeing last summer to automatic cuts in military spending to avoid a fiscal crisis.

The cuts were part of a compromise worked out July 31, 2011, between the White House and congressional Republicans during the U.S. debt-ceiling crisis to force a deal on deficit reduction. The deal called for $984 billion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts, equally split between defense and non-defense programs, between Jan. 2, 2013, and 2021.

"I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose [the deal]," Romney said. "I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it."

Romney, who has criticized Obama over the rising federal debt, said he would seek to balance the federal budget in eight to 10 years, perhaps after his own potential presidency would end.

"I'll balance the budget by the end of my second term," he told NBC. "Doing it in the first term would cause, I believe, a dramatic impact on the economy -- too dramatic. And therefore the steps I've put in place, and we've put together a plan that lays out how we get to a balanced budget within eight to 10 years."

Romney, 65, was asked if he was the moderate Republican who had an "unequivocal" pro-choice position when he ran for Massachusetts governor in 2002 and whose universal healthcare program when he was governor from 2003-2007 became the basis for Obama's healthcare reform. Or if he was the presidential hopeful who told the Conservative Political Action Conference Feb. 10 he was "severely conservative."

"I'm as conservative as the Constitution," Romney said. "I believe in the principles of this nation was founded upon."

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