2012 Presidential Candidates on Healthcare

Mitt Romney

Republican candidate

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says on his campaign website he would repeal the full Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or “Obamacare,” as quickly as possible.

His campaign website says he would allow states to regulate their own insurance markets and the federal government would promote competition between insurance providers and help consumers choose appropriate insurance plans.

Specifically, Romney would cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and limit federal standards for private insurance and Medicaid coverage. He would “prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage.”

Under the Romney-supported plan created by Republican vice presidential nominee and current chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan, Medicare would become a system in which the government provides seniors with a fixed amount of money each year to purchase their own private insurance, rather than having them enroll in a government-run insurance plan with unlimited coverage.

The Ryan proposals would not affect current seniors or those nearing retirement; but, the amount of money received would be based on income, so wealthier seniors would get less. If seniors were to go over that set amount or require care not covered by their insurance plan, they would be left to pay the extra cost.

Romney’s website says Medicare spending will depend on a number of factors, but “by replacing the inefficiency of the current system with a competitive, market-oriented system… the plan puts the future of Medicare on a sound footing.”

Barack Obama

Democratic incumbent

President Barack Obama passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in March 2010, which will continue to be implemented over the next three years. He had promised healthcare reform when he ran for presidential office in 2008, when 18 percent of Americans under 65 had no health insurance, according to a report from the Center for Disease Control.

Under the PPACA, young adults can stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26, insurance companies have to cover people with pre-existing conditions, preventative care is free for people with policies created after March 23, 2010 and insurers can’t place annual dollar limits on coverage.

When the law is fully in place by 2015, more people will be eligible for Medicaid, insurers won’t be able to place a dollar limit on lifetime coverage and employers with more than 50 employees will have to offer health insurance plans.

There is no government option for a health insurance plan under the PPACA, so individuals who don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare have to purchase a private plan if they do not have one already. States will set up health insurance exchange markets for people to shop for private insurance plans.

The PPACA includes a number of provisions to bring down the cost of Medicare, such as decreasing payments Medicare makes to hospitals and private insurers, rewarding quality rather than quantity of care, and encouraging preventative care that will circumvent costly hospital visits for severe health problems. It also offers discounts on drugs for seniors who are in the “donut hole,” where they have to pay out-of-pocket for medicine.