(CNN) – Eric Fehrnstrom, a top aide to Mitt Romney, suggested in a Thursday interview with CNN that the GOP presidential candidate's health plan may achieve his goal of covering individuals with pre-existing conditions through "state initiatives and money."
Asked at Wednesday's debate what he would put in place of President Barack Obama's health care law, Romney offered two particular provisions: "Number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan. Number two, young people are able to stay on their family plan."
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In the interview on CNN's "The Situation Room," Fehrnstrom said "the governor is a federalist when it comes to health care," and supports giving state governments flexibility to craft their own state laws.
When pressed whether Romney would require states to include a pre-existing conditions stipulation in their legislation, Fehrnstrom answered: "We will give the state initiatives and money so that they can manage these decisions on their own. But, of course, we'd like them to see them continue that pre-existing band for those who have continuous coverage."
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a health reform law which included protections against people with pre-existing conditions being denied health coverage or being charged higher prices.
While some, including the president, have characterized the Romney and Obama models as similar, Romney has said his law was appropriate for his state but would not be appropriate nationally.
"The plan we put in place here in Massachusetts works for the people of Massachusetts," Fehrnstrom said, echoing an argument Romney makes on the campaign trail. "The governor will repeal Obamacare and he will return to the states the power to control their own health care futures."
Fehrnstrom explained that Romney supports giving states power to determine what plan best suits their local needs, but also supports a guarantee of coverage for those who, absent legislation, might be denied insurance or reach coverage limits, an aim of Obama's legislation.
"The governor believes that those who have continuous coverage should not be dropped, if they change plans and have a pre-existing condition. But states are well situated to manage these issues," he said.
Romney has said in recent interviews that coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions would be part of his plans.
"My plan is to help bring down the cost of this extraordinary health care inflation, and so instead of putting in place what's affectionately known as Obamacare, I would repeal that and replace that with measures that are designed to help bring down the cost of health insurance and make sure at the same time people have access to health care, preexisting conditions are able to be covered," he said on "Live with Kelly and Michael" in September.
And in an interview for "Meet the Press," Romney said "I'm not getting rid of all of healthcare reform," specifically naming pre-existing conditions, coverage for "family up to whatever age they might like," and reform the law which lets companies buy insurance for their employees pre-tax, a benefit not granted to people shopping individually.
Romney also said an individual mandate that many or all people obtain health coverage is not necessary to implement coverage of pre-existing conditions and extend coverage of young adults under their families' plans.
Some argue that the mandate - a portion of Obama's law which the Supreme Court upheld this summer - is necessary to prevent individuals from freeloading and to prevent the system from being overloaded with more expensive cases while healthier individuals remain uninsured.
"You don't have to have the government mandate that for that to occur," Romney said at the debate.