Saturday, 17 September 2011

Not a Hypothetical Question

During the last GOP debate, there was a chilling moment when Wolf Blitzer asked candidate Rob Paul whether a hypothetical man without health insurance should be allowed to die. Someone from the audience shouted "yeah" and the audience applauded. Paul stumbled and was unable to answer.

But when we talk about whether people without health insurance should live or die, whether we should let them die, that's not a hypothetical question. It's very real, and very painful and actually applies to people here and now. People like Steve:

Our current law says that if someone shows up at an emergency room in need of urgent care, it is illegal to turn them away - whether they can pay or not. But what if they need chomotherapy for cancer? Or what if their diabetic? What if they're HIV positive - and there are expensive but effective drugs that could keep them alive.

The GOP answer is that the person should take personal responsibility for their health. But that's precisely what the Affordable Care Act calls for - it insists that if you can afford health care, you must purchase it so that your medical casts won't be an undue burden on your fellow taxpayers if (when) you need it. It says to insurance companies that they must offer insurance policies to everyone - whether they have a pre-existing condition or not. And it says to those who can't otherwise afford coverage, that the rest of us will chip in a little bit in the form of health subsidies to give you the insurance you need so that you can get preventative care and early treatment that you need to stop your health from deterioriating so that the cost to us, the taxpayers, of saving your life is as low as possible.

But in the end it says: No. You should not be allowed to die. It says, America is a country where easily preventable deaths should not take place because we simply turned our back on the suffering. It says we're all better off if we know that health care is not a luxury for the wealthy. It says that because every single one of us is at risk of losing our job, our savings and our health, we want to take some measure to protect ourselves from the consequences if that happens.

That's reasonable, it compassionate, it's economically sound. That's the Democratic policy. It's my policy.

What's yours? Ask yourself "Would you let him die?"