Romney on being able to fire health insurers: Social media reactions

By Kelly Mehler
09:38 AM

Last week, we looked at Rick Santorum's controversial statement that no one has ever died because they didn't have health insurance. This week, it seems another GOP presidential candidate has gotten himself into a bit of trouble regarding health insurance.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney stirred up altercations in New Hampshire this week. At the Nashua Camber of Commerce on Monday, he said he favored a healthcare system that would allow customers to shop around for their own health insurance, as an alternative to being demanded to select from an employer's choices.

"I like being able to fire people who provide services to me," Romney stated. "If someone doesn't give me the good service I need, I'm going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me."

Insert foot in mouth.

What Romney was trying to point out is that buying health insurance through a large corporation is the only way to get tax-deductible coverage in America. Those companies, he would argue, only offer few choices to employers. This, in Romney's eyes, is "madness."

The media spinoff has been huge.

On the Time website, commenter @LoudRambler explains that Obamacare is a plan that essentially encourages everyone to buy their own insurance. The one thing missing from Romney's remarks, he adds, is that he actually endorses Obama's plan.

"The problem is that in current US environment people won't sell you insurance for a reasonable amount of money," @LoudRambler commented. "The bigger problem is that healthy people obviously don't want to buy their insurance all that much, and that for corporations getting rid of older workers (who cost more to insure) became sort of a managing cost, essentially making the 'private purchase' market full of people who are expensive to cover."

One conservative solution is to eliminate state prohibitions on creating private pools of insured individuals. Making insurance premiums tax deductible would provide vouchers or credits for low-income earners that may only be used to purchase insurance.

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with what Romney said. It's capitalism," commented @Winston70k on the Time blog. "It's also the essence of being a consumer."

@Jter31 also agrees with Romney's observation. "If I find an insurance company that can do a better job than my current insurance company, I am going to go with the new one."

Romney has since defended his remarks. "I was talking about insurance companies. We like to be able to get rid of insurance companies that don't give us the service that we need," Romney said late Monday. "I do not want to live in a world where we have Obamacare telling us which insurance we have to have, which doctor we can have, which hospital we go to."

Twitter user @vfn reflected that Romney saying he liked to "fire people" meant dropping service providers. "When that happens, people still get fired," he tweeted.

User @jbullydawg said Tuesday,"Romney's quote is just as interesting in context. Lots of people cannot fire their insurance companies."

The majority of audiences believe the candidates' words were taken out of context. Even fellow presidential nominee Newt Gingrich admitted to this. The underlying issue though, is that conservative voters are looking for an alternative healthcare plan to Obamacare. For some, this could sway their votes in early primaries.

Tweet at us @HITNewsTweet and let us know what you thought of Mitt Romney's comments.