House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Raúl Labrador must have heard a “click” when he said “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care” at a town hall on Friday. That “click” sound he heard was like in the movies when a soldier steps on a land mine.
In the real world, the mine just explodes. And in the real world, the left and the media is about to crucify Labrador. The crowd’s reaction betrays the correctness of his response–the questioner said that the GOP was asking Medicaid participants to “accept dying.” That’s ridiculous.
As Kevin Williamson so excellently explained, there’s no possibility of a free lunch when there’s only a certain number of lunches, less than the number of hungry people (it’s called “scarcity”). At some point, someone is going to put out their hand and say “pay me.”
In the U.S., it’s illegal for a public hospital emergency room to conduct what’s called in the industry a “wallet biopsy.” They can’t create a new triage category called “uninsured” and move them to the hallway to die. First of all, no health care provider would do that, and second of all, it’s illegal. (Except in the abortion industry, but that’s a different fish to fry, so to speak.)
Therefore, nobody in America, when wheeled in, or stumbling in, to an emergency room, is going to be denied life-saving care if it’s available. The bill for that care is secondary.
However, if you walk into the Kroger “Little Clinic” without cash, debit or credit card, or valid insurance, you don’t get seen or treated. If you do that and you’re dying, they’ll gladly call 911 for you, and you end up in the emergency room.
The emergency room, in America, is the great equalizer for access to health care. If you don’t have one very close, then yes, it’s possible you could die because you don’t have access to health care. But that has nothing to do with Medicaid or town halls. Labrador was right. We don’t have people dying in the streets in America because nobody will help them.
But Labrador is also wrong in this sense–which also has nothing to do with the GOP attempt to repeal Obamacare, because Obamacare created the problem. When insurance premiums increase 20 percent a year, and people don’t buy insurance (even if it’s mandated) because they have to choose between their mortgage, food, or insurance, then they lose access to routine health care.
Without routine access to blood tests and preventative medicine, people let problems get out of hand to the point where they end up sick in the emergency room. Or they go to the emergency room for a headache. Either way, that increases the cost of health care for everyone because the E.R. is the worst place to clog up with people who don’t have an actual health emergency or are there for something that was preventable.
Possibly, someone who is genuinely ill might end up waiting and dying because there are no doctors or rooms available. That’s “scarcity” and resource management, not insurance. So Labrador is only a little bit wrong.
When people can’t afford the drugs that can save their lives from Hepatitis or other manageable but expensive health issues, that’s also letting them die because they don’t have access to health care. But in that case, the government can indeed do something. Obamacare did nothing to help them, except make health insurance less accessible because it’s too expensive, unless everyone went on Medicaid.
In case you don’t get that last part, it’s called “single-payer” and it will bankrupt America in short order.
But none of that matters, because the left and the leftist media got its sound bite. Labrador’s not going to get out of this one without suffering the explosion from the land mine he stepped on. But he’s way more right than wrong.