Romney’s health plan doesn’t pass the laugh test…

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney visited California this week to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno–who proceeded to ask him about health reform.

Romney made a point of talking not just about “repeal,” but then was totally incoherent about what he would replace it about. Perhaps the solution he helped craft in Massachusetts is remarkably like the system he seeks to repeal federally.

I can’t say I agree with Jay that the only thing in the health system to be concerned about is children and people with pre-existing conditions, but even on that limited scope, Romney failed the laugh test.

ROMNEY: People with preexisting conditions — as long as they’ve been insured before, they’re going to continue to have insurance.

LENO: Suppose they were never insured?

ROMNEY: 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.

LENO: I know guys at work in the auto industry, and they’re just not covered … they’ve just never been able to get insurance. And then they get to 30, 35, and were never able to get insurance before. Now they have it. That seems like a good thing.

ROMNEY: We’ll look at a circumstance where someone was ill, and hasn’t been insured so far. 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. But people who have done their best to get insured, are going to be able to be covered. 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.

Romney seems to be unaware that many employers don’t provide health coverage, and some employers don’t provide coverage to all their workers. (California has one of the worst rates in the nation of employer-sponsored health care.)

He likely knows better when talking about allowing people to have continuous coverage–something already allowed, yet its not enough to fill the gaps in our health system.

And he seems to be oblivious (if not worse) that the main reason that people don’t pick up coverage is not because they choose not to take it up, but is that they can’t afford it–that’s what the Affordable Care Act seeks to address, by providing financial help to people, based on their income, and that is what he seeks to repeal.

As Jonathan Chait and Frank Rich note, if Jay Leno is breaking down your evasions, they may not hold up as well as you would hope.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.