Romney: Uninsured can seek care in ER

Mitt Romney suggested Sunday that Americans who lack insurance can find the care they need in emergency rooms — a position that contradicts the rationale behind his Massachusetts healthcare law.

In an interview on CBS, the former governor was asked whether the government should provide healthcare for the uninsured.

The GOP presidential nominee replied by saying that "we do provide care for people who don't have insurance" — emergency care.

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"If someone has a heart attack," Romney said, "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."

Since August, Romney has taken pains to express concern for the uninsured and to invoke his Massachusetts reform — moves that have alarmed conservatives opposed to the Affordable Care Act, which Romney's statewide law inspired.

On Sunday, the former governor brought up his signature healthcare achievement again, defending the idea that states have different policies for dealing with the uninsured, including using emergency case.

"Some provide that care through clinics," he said on CBS. "Some provide the care through emergency rooms. In my state, we found a solution that worked for my state.

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"But I wouldn’t take what we did in Massachusetts and say to Texas, 'You’ve got to take the Massachusetts model,' " he added.

The healthcare overhauls in Massachusetts and at the federal level mandated that everyone buy health insurance in part to reduce the amount of routine care given in emergency rooms — one of the costliest medical venues.

Romney invoked the so-called free-rider problem as recently as two years ago in defending his state healthcare overhaul.

"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 on MSNBC in March 2010.