Downplaying the need for the government to ensure that every person has health insurance, Mitt Romney on Sunday suggested that emergency room care suffices as a substitute for the uninsured.
“Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance,” he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night. “If someone has a heart attack, 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.”
This constitutes a dramatic reversal in position for Romney, who passed a universal health care law in Massachusetts, in part, to eliminate the costs incurred when the uninsured show up in emergency rooms for care. Indeed, in both his book and in high-profile interviews during the campaign, Romney has touted his achievement in stamping out these inefficiencies while arguing that the same thing should be done at the national level.
This is an idiotic non-solution that’s run rampant on the right for years. And I say it’s a non-solution because it is — quite literally — a really big part of the problem.
Republicans like to pretend that emergency rooms offer care for free, which of course they don’t. That means that if you go to the ER and skip out on your bill because it’s insanely expensive and you can’t afford it, everyone else pays for it. So the idiotic “solution” to the healthcare crisis — as Republicans like Mitt put it — is to not give freeloaders a free ride and have people pay for other people’s healthcare, it’s to have people pay for other people’s healthcare. No, that’s not a typo — that’s the argument.
And this is the worst way to have one group pay for another’s healthcare, since the group getting soaked for the non-payers are already sick and less able to earn. In short, the Republican ER argument is that people should pay for other people’s healthcare, just in the least efficient and sustainable manner imaginable — because liberty, I guess. It makes absolutely no sense at all and the argument exists only as spin to defend the status quo.
Mitt’s idea is a terrible idea precisely because it is not an idea. It’s a big pile of nothin’. It’s things as they are now, presented as a solution to a problem we’re experiencing now. It’s like his “let Detroit go bankrupt” non-idea all over again. Apparently, Mitt’s answer to every crisis is to sit on your ass and do nothing.