The Tea Party Solution: Just Let the Uninsured Die?
Remember back during the health care debate when Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson came onto the House floor and presented two posters which he called “The Republican Health Care Plan”?
One of them said “Don’t Get Sick,” and the other said “Die Quickly.”
Remember the outrage? “Appalling,” Sean Hannity called it. Bill O’Reilly called Grayson a “pinhead.” House Republicans drafted a resolution of disapproval identical to the one approved against Joe Wilson, who became a hero to Republicans after shouting “you lie!” at the president while he was speaking to Congress.
(Remember, the GOP hates disrespect and name-calling, unless it’s them doing it. Then it’s a fundraising bonanza.).
Well, a few months later, it seems that at least some tea partiers actually think that Grayson’s so-called “smear” could actually be the basis of a mighty fine plan.
During the recent TP-sponsored debate, moderator Wolf Blitzer was discussing health care reform with Ron Paul, the Rodney Dangerfield of his party. Blitzer gave Paul a hypothetical situation about a 30-year-old who’d decided not to buy health insurance getting sick and slipping into a coma. Who pays for his care?
Paul started talking about how assuming your own risks is what freedom is all about.
“But Congressman,” Blitzer persisted, “are you saying society should just let him die?”
At which point, members of the tea party audience began shouting “Yes! YEAH!” to scattered laughter and applause.
To his credit, Paul at least said “no,” but then he began scattering rays of the usual nostalgic moonshine about how the hypothetical coma patient would be taken care of anyway, just like in the Good Old Days. Back in his day, Grandpa Ron said, when he first practiced medicine, churches took care of people and “we never turned anybody away from the hospital.”
Maybe not, Congressman, but I’m betting the hospital passed the costs of the uninsured along by charging everyone else more, just as the ERs do now, which is exactly one of the problems health care reform addresses. And I’m not sure how the doctors’ offices are going to react when they’re told to send the bill for an MRI or colonoscopy to the patient’s church.
Actually, that’s wrong. I am sure how they’re going to react. They’re going to tell you to come back when you have some health insurance, or several thousand dollars. In cash, not (as failed tea party candidate Sue Lowden once suggested) in poultry.
So, anyway, it seems that there are at least some Teahadists who not only approve of, but are downright gleeful at, the idea of letting the uninsured simply expire.
Now we see why Sarah Palin was so upset by that hallucination she had about the “death panels” in the health care bill. She wanted to get rid of the bureaucratic middleman and let the Grim Reaper do his work free of all that government regulation they’re always so heated up about.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the current ABM (Anybody But Mitt) favorite of the tea party, told reporters the next day that he was “taken aback” by the crowd reaction to the question. I don’t know why he was so surprised, though, at the idea that right-wingers would cheer at the mention of people dying.
At the last debate, one of the big applause lines came when NBC’s Brian Williams, in the course of asking a question on the death penalty, noted that Texas under Perry had executed 234 death row inmates, “more than any other governor in modern times.” The crowd cheered and whistled at the death toll.
Maybe next debate, Perry can put little stickers of nooses on the podium, like a fighter pilot putting his kills on the side of his plane. That’ll really get their juices flowing.
See, here’s the thing: The only lives wingnuts really care about are ones that haven’t been born yet. Once you first see daylight, kid, you’re on your own. Don’t be poor, don’t lose your job, don’t get sick, and don’t make any mistakes like failing to buy insurance.
Because in the Dickensian nightmare world the Teahadists fantasize about, “E Pluribus Unum” is Latin for “I Got Mine, So Step Off, Jack.” And freedom’s just another word for “we don’t care if you live or die.”
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes and practices law in Carthage.
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