GOP to Uninsured: Drop Dead

“We are now contemplating, Heaven save the mark, a bill that would tax the well for the benefit of the ill.”

No, that’s not Senate Minority Leader John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh or any of the other usual suspects complaining about the cost of health care reform. Rather, it’s the beginning of an editorial in the Aug. 15, 1949 issue of The New York State Journal of Medicine denouncing attempts to provide every American with health insurance. Sure, 90 percent were uninsured then, versus around 15 percent, today. But what’s amazing is the way the overheated arguments by conservatives have changed hardly at all in six decades, as evidenced by an op-ed in the July 15, 2009 Wall Street Journal entitled “Universal Health Care Isn’t Worth Our Freedom.”

Here’s the August, 1949 New York State Journal:

Any experienced general practitioner will agree that what keeps the great majority of people well is the fact that they can’t afford to be ill. That is a harsh, stern dictum and we readily admit that under it a certain number of cases of early tuberculosis and cancer, for example, may go undetected. Is it not better that a few such should perish rather than that the majority of the population should be encouraged on every occasion to run sniveling to the doctor? That in order to get their money’s worth they should be sick at every available opportunity? They will find out in time that the services they think they get for nothing ­– but which the whole people of the United States would pay for – are also worth nothing.

And here’s Dr. Thomas Szasz from the July 15, 2009 Wall Street Journal:

The idea that every life is infinitely precious and therefore everyone deserves the same kind of optimal medical care is a fine religious sentiment and moral ideal. As political and economic policy, it is vainglorious delusion. Rich and educated people not only receive better goods and services in all areas of life than do poor and uneducated people, they also tend to take better care of themselves and their possessions, which in turn leads to better health….We must stop talking about “health care” as if it were some kind of collective public service, like fire protection, provided equally to everyone who needs it….If we persevere in our quixotic quest for a fetishized medical equality we will sacrifice personal freedom as its price. We will become the voluntary slaves of a “compassionate” government that will provide the same low quality health care to everyone.

Of course, there’s been some progress. Six decades ago, the kind of views expressed by Szasz and the New York Journal represented the medical mainstream. Today, even the most troglodyte are not suggesting the repeal of Medicare and Medicaid.

On the other hand, in those “pre-spin” days so long ago the health-insurance-for-all opponents of the past were forthright about the consequences of their principles for others. Today’s conservative fulminators prefer to forego mentioning the 20,000 preventable deaths each year – about 55 people each and every day – among those without insurance coverage.

The other great difference sixty years has made is the racial and ethnic composition of the uninsured. The uninsured today are disproportionately minority. Nearly one in four (36 percent) are Hispanic, 22 percent are black, 17 percent Asian/Pacific Islanders and just 13 percent white. The impact of those figures is clear. While nearly one third of Texans have no health insurance, the Republicans who dominate its Congressional delegation have shown no particular urgency to address a problem primarily affecting low-income Hispanics. (Fifty-eight 58 percent of the uninsured in the state are Hispanic, according to Kaiser Family Foundation figures.)

It’s important to remember that none of the Republican presidential candidates in either the primary or general election presented a serious plan to cover all the uninsured, nor have any of the Congressional GOP critics of Obama’s plan done so. In other words, the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans on universal access to health care, then, is not a difference on government should help accomplish this goal but whether the goal itself is worth pursuing.

Put differently, for those Americans who can’t afford medical care (or are afraid that they won’t be able to in the future), the GOP has a clear reply: drop dead.

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17 replies »

  1. This time President Obama is right, By asking GOP and the Republican Party to share ideas of how to help those who are sick, this is why he got elected in the first place, it show that he cares and is more concerned about what the people think about him then, GOP and the Republican Party thinks…
    This Health Care Reform will not work until a job force is put into action, I would ask all who voted for President Obama or did not, to cast a vote to approve this Job Act Concept of Obama s and order GOP and the Republican s to help or stand down. You humor yourself with this statement of mine, I humored myself when it was stated that the people needed permission to voice opinion in the Health Care Bill….
    Understand this I have a little gift and I have all ways been able to see the truth and lies in things, and President Obama did what was right, so if I was you I would help him rebuild America.
    I have protested this Health Care Bill hard and long and I have gained the respect of a great many people, But now I ask for President Obama to put his faith into the people, and not into any Party.
    The dirty little secret that Health Care Insurance Companies and certain Officials Of Government do not wish to be known is that the value of the dollar is more important then human life.
    Out of all of the Government Officials only one opened a blogged at
    The American Spectator . This company posted http://www.fascmovement.mysite.com on the net and Congressman Ryan dropped off his little blog. As a course of action. Where he stated because of all of the diversity between people that Governing Parties intervened
    as a course of action needed.
    For days I worked the word diversity in my mind and it came to me that because of this it is not Americas weakness it is our greatest strength. And this is how I will show you.
    Bill Of Rights –
    The Declaration of Independence-
    United under one forum, builds what is called the Trinity of the Protection Of Laws. This is because these Laws were built by people of faith who gave thanks to God for this wisdom. One would have to see and admire the simplicity of the three as one and at the same time they maintain their independence.
    As for my views that the People Of the United States have the right to build a Health Care Forum with in the the working Institution Of the United States Government and place the task of Officials Building Security for the safe keep of this building block of ideas.
    As I stated a long time ago, the age of Health Care Insurance Companies has ended, nature has selected them to be no more. Because of the failures within and the facts that the human life has no value over the dollar.
    Insurance Companies and all of the Democrat and Republican Parties do not have the power to stop a United Health Care Forum within our Government, built by the people.
    And this is why;
    Tucker vs. Government page 33 at our site.
    You see ,I do not and will not make the first penny off of this building block, I do not wish to meet any of theses Officials. I do not want anything but for this failed system out of my life, to go back to my world where I will watch and wait for Amendments of Law Against the People to be sought after again. I invite those who wish to try again, to do so in , Lets say 200 years from now and I will come back.
    Henry Massingale
    FASC Concepts in and for PAY It Forward
    http://www.fascmovement.mysite.com on google

  2. I have no insurance. I cannot find a doctor who will accept me as a patient, even though I am willing and able to pay UP FRONT. That is just flat wrong. I am being denied healthcare because I do not have insurance. That is the ONLY reason. Now, even IF I got insurance, my issue would be considered pre-existing and therefore I would be out of luck again. The whole healthcare system has gotten totally warped and it needs to be straightened out. Now.

  3. The very “The Uninsured” spin is a contextual lie, in the first place.
    It implies that:
    (A) Everyone needs health insurance that covers their normal, predictable health care.
    (B) The people who don’t have it are people who are deprived and need to be saved.
    We’ll start with B first:
    The “forty million uninsured” (or whatever number some huckster is spouting) largely consists of:
    9,000,000 Millionaires
    27,000,000 people who make more than $50,000 per year, but choose not to get insurance
    22,000,000 Young adults who can afford insurance, but choose not to
    14,000,000 People who can already get medicaid, but choose not to
    11,000,000 Illegal Immigrants
    23,000,000 People who are actually insured. That’s right; you’ve been lied to…surprised?
    This adds up to more than forty seven million, because of the overlap – for example young adults who are millionaires and change insurance companies fit into four categories, above.
    In fact, the number ACTUALLY not covered at all is less than three percent of the population. One should not replace a 97% effective system with some omnibus government plan, refusing to pass each part separately in case some are bad and some are good.
    But, that aside, there’s (A):
    In fact, having predictable costs EVER covered by “insurance” robs people of choice and responsibility, destroying whatever system it involves.
    Whatever your predictable annual health care costs, your insurance provider WILL, and obviously must, charge you MORE than that amount, in that same year. It would, of course, be cheaper for you to simply pay those predictable expenses yourself.
    What’s more, your NOT paying them guarantees that costs will snowball, for the same reason that if you had “food insurance” that paid your daily meal costs for you, the cost of food would go through the roof. You would have no reason to limit or control the price of what you ate, not even a way to really know what those costs were.
    Having non-catastrophic health insurance forced (by tax-based mandates against employers) on most people separates the consumer (the ultimate, most powerful regulator) from the industry, guaranteeing that service will collapse and prices go through the roof, much as is happening now.
    The last thing we need is MORE of that.

  4. I don’t think the conservative clamor over healthcare is really about healthcare. Conservatives are scared at what is happening to America, and they haven’t had a way to express their fear since Obama was elected. The healthcare townhalls are the first time they could get the attention they want and show just how angry and afraid they are.
    So don’t bother trying to communicate with them (they really aren’t looking for answers about healthcare). We should spend all of our energy getting the word to independents about what is in the proposed healthcare reform so they can make informed decisions.

  5. Steve S:
    Rhetoric about welfare queens went out with Reagan in the 1980’s. They never found any, despite the clamor.
    In the interests of full disclosure, I am a personal friend of Michael. And by the way, it is Michael, not Mike, not Mikey, not Mickey. Maybe if you weren’t condescending, your arguments might inspire some validity.
    I work for a company of four employees, all over 50, and all with chronic, serious health problems. Try to get coverage for a group like ours. Not affordable coverage, but coverage. Group coverage won’t go below 6 employees. And individual coverage is unavailable if you don’t already have it.
    My daughter graduated from college 2 years ago. The day she graduated she lost coverage. She was unable to get individual coveragebecause of pre-existing conditions, not because of “self-inflicted” problems but the luck of the draw. Once she was turned down by a company I thought would offer coverage, even expensive coverage, she was forever blacklisted by other companies.
    Yet, she moved overseas and was immediately covered by private coverage in this other country. And when she returned to the US, her new employer credited her with coverage for its pre-existing condition clause!
    Don’t tell me the system isn’t broken.
    Maybe people would eat better if the foods with the worst nutrition weren’t the cheapest, and if better food were available. In the poorest sections of Chicago there is a food desert. For miles around you can’t find a supermarket, or even a small grocery that sells good, inexpensive food. But, you have block upon block of fast food joints.
    And maybe there would be less junk if the food producers were not allowed to produce externalities without responsibilities. Maybe we should treat junk food like the EPA treats car exhaust. Control it at the tailpipe or face big fines…which could go to improve food for the poor.
    Steve…in interests of disclosure, maybe you could tell us how you and your family get its coverage and what kind of coverage you have. Ever had to find individual coverage with a pre-existing condition?

  6. I KNOW ALL ABOUT NATIONAL HEALTHCARE! – IT’S A JOY!!!! And as a wealthy individual, I can vouch that it did not take away from our way of life in UK. Au contraire, it gave us freedom from fear, always! The government never decided whether or not we required a heart transplant, believe me, it was the doctor! We carried catastrophic insurance for serious injury, minimal expense, but for countless doctor visits such as cuts, stitches, accidents, mammograms, blood checks etc… it was superb. Not perfect, but isn’t occasional human failing inevitable as humans. And believe me, care was just as good if not better. Conversely, living in the States, always holding comprehensive insurance, at great cost, with high deductibles, I end up paying for every health check in addition. What kind of service is that? I’m slim and healthy. However, one hour in emergency with a simple back spasm from hiking cost me $2500. Placed on every conceivable machine in the ER, presumably to bring up hospital shortfalls to compensate for my friends without insurance! Bless their hearts and livers. What kind of justice is that! – America, please do yourselves a favor? Place a cap on lawsuits – if the doctor cuts off your pinky instead of your toe, you deserve compensation, but not multi millions. Save that money to see youngsters through medical school – we will have more good doctors. Another pitfall, if America insists on eating fast food, then lets encourage fast food chains that offer health-building alternatives. America, you deserve freedom!

  7. The economic truth..
    Health care, as all services, are rationed. Its an economic fact. If you let the free market dictate, it will be rationed by price. If you let the gov’t dictate, it will be rationed by a bureaucracy. There are limited resources and unlimited wants/needs. The reason prices are increasing is that there is excess demand with to few resources. So the answer is:
    a. Get more doctors/nurses/hospitals – over supply always drives down prices (look at the current housing market)
    b. Have less patients – less demand creates over supply of doctors/nurses/hospitals and drives down prices. So either get rid of Medicaid and Medicare (politicly unrealistic) or no longer force hospitals to provide care to the uninsured (probably not going to happen either).
    So the solution would be to get every MD in the world access to citizenship into this country (like it or not) and let them come in droves. I hate to say it, but its probably the most realistic answer available.

  8. President Obama should argue that lack of
    access to public health care is a public health
    hazard. The Obama health care plan offers Americans
    a basic civil service – access to medical care. The
    government offers the citizen other civil services
    such as the police force which few Americans would
    dare to see privatized, for fear that greed lead to
    abuse of power and unequal protection. Also the
    sewer systems; a public health initiative. So we
    entrust our public health and security to
    government already and few complain.Under this
    plan, any American suffering from anything from a
    heart murmur to the swine flu can receive treatment
    at a clinic. This ability for citizens to do so
    benefits the whole society with added protection
    against epidemic and improved productivity.
    However, under the Obama plan, wealthy citizens who
    require additional services, like useless tests and
    drug therapies for loosely diagnosed ailments at
    the PATIENT’S, not the doctor’s, request are still
    able to pay for these luxury health care services
    at premium prices. Wealthy people also hire private
    security forces if they feel the municipal police
    does not offer sufficient protection.
    As for the rest of us, a healthy, safe
    society is worth taxing anyone for, and a pair of
    sunglasses from a truck stop is as good as Dolce
    and Gabbana. The only difference is the label and
    the price tag.

  9. Michael The Miller’s Son says: “That is not political; it is ethical and moral.”
    Are you serious Mikey? Really? Are you serious?
    “Political?” – Handouts and freebies always get out the vote.
    How about first, all ‘uninsured’ give up their BlackBerry’s, their cable TV, their Internet connections, their Escalade payments, their daily Grande Latte’s, etc. etc.
    Then take the balance and exclude anyone who has not paid $200 in federal taxes in the last 18 months.
    Then exclude anyone with a BMI of 32+
    Then drug test the rest.
    (The above should be very easy to ascertain given today’s information flow)
    Then if someone makes it past the above test, they get to apply for a basic High-Deductible CDH plan? The kind of coverage like the rest of us (soon to be all of us) get to ‘enjoy.” – deductibles, copays, coinsurance and all.
    I think the above oughta whack the 46 million down quite a large bit, eh Mikey?
    “Ethical?” – Don’t push your version of “ethics” onto me and my family. Once you’ve given away all of your money and possessions and can’t find any means of support and pass the above ‘means test’ – then you might could begin to garner my morel and ethical sympathy – not a second before.
    “Moral?” – Who’s the Morality Police, Michael? What does moral mean? Would late term abortion be a covered expense?
    Go back and review my first points…I have ZERO sympathy for people who make poor choices and who are unwilling to help themselves; but who are usually all to ready to stick their hand into my tax paying pocket.
    What a mis-guided, pompous person you are – Mikey.

  10. “Today, even the most troglodytes are not suggesting the repeal of Medicare and Medicaid.”
    Who is really the troglodyte, the GOP for daring to put out there that the darling of socialism is a failure and not sustainable or the liberals who will follow the entire nation to ruin before admitting they promised more then they can deliver.
    The self righteous indignation of people such as your self always amasses me. You hold yourself up as being so much better then those with conservative ideological beliefs; but what have you really done? Medicaid is the worst health plan in America. Medicare is the most expensive. Together they are the most inefficient and fraud ridden. In your compassionate glory you inflicted some of the most expensive and lowest quality care on our most vulnerable, and for this you claim your place in heaven? This is just as ludicrous as liberals saying they cared more for black America as they locked them up in public housing.
    In case you missed it here is someone far more intelligent then you calling for the elimination of both Medicare and Medicaid. Neither program can be reformed so they should be scrapped and we should start all over. Any time you want to be embarrassed by a troglodyte try stepping up and debating it with me.
    20K people supposedly die because they don’t have health insurance. But 80% could have health insurance and choose to not sign up. So the issue is not 20K people but 4K. The GOP would love to address the very real problems those 4K people have but the corrupt liberals on the other side insist on phony solutions for the 16K that refuse to take the insurance they have available to them. No the GOP doesn’t think people should be forced to lose the insurance they like so 80% of the insured can be forcibly enrolled. Why don’t you stop debating phony numbers of 47 million that can’t get insurance and lets work together on the 5 million that can’t get insurance.
    You claim GOP not only doesn’t have a plan for the uninsured but would prefer they just drop dead. I take 5 seconds with this magical internet search thing though and get responses like this;
    “Extending health insurance to uninsured Pennsylvanians has been a key issue for Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell for two years. But Republicans, who control the Senate, have criticized the scope and cost of his solutions.
    So today they outlined an alternate plan, called HealthNET PA, which they claim will go a long way toward helping low-income people without access to health care, but at considerably less cost than Mr. Rendell’s plans.”
    “Saying a government-run universal health care system is not the way to go, House Republicans proposed a plan Wednesday they said would relax some barriers and make it easier for insurers to cover the estimated 600,000 uninsured Oklahomans.
    “Ideas proposed in House Bill 2026 include enabling insurers to offer basic preventive plans with catastrophic coverage without having to include coverage for all 36 mandated treatments in Oklahoma, said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa.”
    “After six months of work, Senate Republicans proposed a broad range of measures Tuesday to provide health insurance to millions of Americans and to improve health care for those who remain uninsured. “
    SO the truth is the GOP has plans you just don’t like them. Lacking the intelligence or knowledge to actually debate the merits of any of those plans you just write a lazy BS post claiming the GOP told the uninsured to drop dead. What poor commentary on yourself and your ideals of reform this is the best you can do.
    According to the CBO;
    “Dem’s Health Care Plan Costs $1 Trillion, Leaves 36 Million Uninsured, Forces 23 Million Out of Their Current Plans”
    Please clarify the cut off, 47 million uninsured mean you don’t care and they can drop dead, 36 million uninsured means your compassionate and a humanitarian?
    Personally I think a trillion dollars is a little pricy to buy 11 million people insurance.
    Do you really get away with making weak arguments like this? Did you not expect someone to come back with some basic facts and embarrass you? You need to run home with your tail between your legs, do some research, read up on the issue and come back when you’re capable of a real discussion. Or just ask and I’ll gladly teach you why any of the state level conservative proposals would be far more successful then any progressive federal proposition on the table.

  11. “Karen, healthcare is rationed currently; by ability to pay.”
    And that Fred is the difference between freedom and oppression. When care is rationed by ability to pay that means at my will I can exchange my labor to pay for my care. When it is rationed by politicians those life decisions are no longer in my hands. Since liberals first started proposing the destruction of our healthcare systems and economy in 1906; Americans have always chosen freedom. How many times do we have to tell you no?
    Michael 20,000 deaths in NOTHING compared to what Democrat’s public housing did to generations of African Americans. If you really wanted to start a body count failed socialism has killed millions more then GOP not caring.
    And FYI the GOP has had a plan for 10+ years; most on the left are just to stupid to grasp it. It’s called government stop driving up the cost of healthcare so people can’t afford it. You can start with Ted Kennedy and his HMO Act of 1973…speaking of counting bodies. Actually you can go back to Medicare, since dimwitted liberals started “reforming” healthcare it become more expensive and driving more people to uninsured.
    You might also want to look up the AHP bills brought to the floor every year for the past 10-15 years when you take your foot out of your mouth. The no plan having GOP wanted to allow small businesses and individuals to pool together to buy affordable insurance. Democrats blocked it to protect the unions. Don’t you hate when facts come along and kill your whole post like that?

  12. Those 20,000 preventable deaths are dwarfed by the deaths and spending that result from obesity and preventable chronic conditions. I’m not seeing much about that coming from Washington right now. Not very pragmatic in my view, but it makes everyone feel good. Covering the uninsured is far more politically popular than addressing costs, because the majority of the public does not understand what the cost drivers are.
    Attacking the cost drivers means pissing someone off, and it’s not easy to get re-elected when you do that. Hence, we will have expensive healthcare (and very busy PCPs) for the forseeable future.

  13. My post does not attack the Republicans for how they want to cover the uninsured. It attacks the GOP for not putting forth a plan that would cover the uninsured and not, historically, caring.
    That is not political; it is ethical and moral. There are Republicans who are deeply disappointed with their own party for that stance. That doesn’t make them Democrats, it makes them Republicans with a conscience.
    Among the 20,000 who die each year because of lack of health insurance are Democrats, Republicans and independents. Republicans and Democrats of good will can disagree on how to address the issue. But you need to address the issue.
    Hiding behind demagoguery and labels is cable TV politics. Denouncing “socialized medicine” is cable TV politics. Real, responsible politics is coming up with a plan to cover all the uninsured.

  14. I read the post and thought to myself “How is Keith Olbermann finding the time to post on THCB?” Then I scrolled back up and realized it was Michael. If the goal was to further expose healthcare reform to the divisiveness of politics, something which has stalled reform for decades, you have probably succeeded.

  15. There are some good arguments for nationalized health care but to have credibility you must address those on your side promulgating the same insensitive attitudes.
    As a chronically ill person with private insurance I repeatedly encounter the message that my life is not worth that of a younger person. For example, I click on the New York Times to find Peter Singer telling me that my life isn’t worth that much. Indeed, that “drop dead” message seems to go both ways. As horrifying as the statistic of 20,000 (out of 50,000) is I also wonder how many of the 200 million Americans many such as myself with serious chronic illness, many elderly, and sickly neonates given little chance at “quality” life will die due to government rationing.