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Mitt Romney: Any Republican candidate would reform healthcare with tax credits

While the former presidential candidate called the 2016 race anything but over, as for the rumors of getting into it himself, that answer is 'no.'
By Tom Sullivan
06:47 PM
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Romney said he believes the Republicans need a fresh face to beat the Democrats, someone people didn’t know before the race began.

LAS VEGAS — Mitt Romney ran down the list of Presidential candidates and suggested ways each might change healthcare as president.

In short: A Democrat would tweak Obamacare while a Republican would probably venture down a new path that relies on tax credits.

Those prognostications came after a pressing question from former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt during an HX360 event at HIMSS16 on Wednesday.

Leavitt asked the question that has been buzzing around political circles and social media in recent weeks: Will he join the presidential race?

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” Romney joked. “No. I’m not getting in.”

With the question of the moment answered, Romney settled into a casual conversation around the fascinating 2016 presidential race.

The former Massachusetts Gov. said any of the remaining Republican candidates would replace Obamacare and lean on tax credits to get citizens insured. But that might be where the similarities end between his view of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

“If Mr. Trump became president, I think he’d look to the House – and I don’t know that because he hasn’t described a comprehensive plan – but I think he’d look to Mr. Ryan and the House to move toward refundable tax credits for buying insurance, with an emphasis on health savings accounts,” Romney said. “Insurance would be a benefit, not deductible. Look for an at-risk pool funded by feds for people with pre-existing conditions.”

[Also: See photos from Day 2 of HIMSS16]

Romney added that if Rubio, Cruz or Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the White House, each would likely put a finger on the scales, but would take a similar direction as Trump.

With his big wins on Super Tuesday, Trump has 319 delegates to Cruz’s 226 delegates. But Romney said the Presidential race “is still a contest,” among Republicans.

As for the Democrats, Romney said they would likely keep Obamacare, though there might be a few changes made.

“If Hillary gets elected you might see some adjustments to Obamacare, but the House wouldn’t go along with Bernie Sanders-style expansion,” Romney said. “If Bernie were president, federal regulators would play a larger role in healthcare and be more demanding of insurance companies and providers.”

That point, however, might be moot in relatively short order. When asked if the Clinton-Sanders battle is over Romney answered: “I think so.”

Romney also acknowledged that Obamacare is the law of the land and reflected on his own proposal to improve healthcare in America.

“My own view was to say that each state is responsible for getting 95 percent of its people insured but it’s up to each state how to do it,” Romney said.

If Vermont wants single-payer, let them try it, and if other states want to replicate what he did in Massachusetts they would be free to pursue that avenue, he said.

“Given the fact that Obamacare has been implemented and is now in place, it’s hard to go back to the model I proposed,” Romney said. “President Obama – thanks so much – went out and told everybody Romneycare was the grandfather of Obamacare.”

As for the election, Romney said he believes the Republicans need a fresh face to beat the Democrats, someone people didn’t know before the race began. Though he also said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would have a better chance of beating Hillary Clinton than he does.

Twitter: @SullyHIT


This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the HIMSS16 conference. Follow our live blog for real-time updates, and visit Destination HIMSS16 for a full rundown of our reporting from the show. For a selection of some of the best social media posts of the show, visit our Trending at #HIMSS16 hub.