WASHINGTON -- Downplaying the need for the government to ensure that every person has health insurance, Mitt Romney on Sunday suggested that emergency room care suffices as a substitute for the uninsured.
"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance," he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS's "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday night. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."
This constitutes a dramatic reversal in position for Romney, who passed a universal health care law in Massachusetts, in part, to eliminate the costs incurred when the uninsured show up in emergency rooms for care. Indeed, in both his book and in high-profile interviews during the campaign, Romney has touted his achievement in stamping out these inefficiencies while arguing that the same thing should be done at the national level.
And while Romney refused to agree on Sunday that the government's role is to ensure that every American has health care, he has endorsed such an idea in the past.
When asked in a March 2010 interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" whether he believes in universal coverage, Romney said, "Oh, sure."
"Look, it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care for which they have no responsibility, particularly if they are people who have sufficient means to pay their own way," he said.