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.
And while Romney refused to agree on Sunday that the government’s role is to ensure that every American has health care, he has endorsed such an idea in the past.
When asked in a March 2010 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether he believes in universal coverage, Romney said, “Oh, sure.”
“Look, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care for which they have no responsibility, particularly if they are people who have sufficient means to pay their own way,” he said.
Maybe he’s also for putting the uninsured on a plane and opening the windows.
As usual, Romney is talking out of his ass.
A must-read to the end.
I am a South African, by birth and citizenship. I’ve been in the United States nearly three decades, but my language, culture, and family are all South African. I am an immigrant working in high-technology entrepreneurship. I have created a dozen jobs, and intend to create as many more as possible in the coming months and years. My maternal grandmother, Rosyln Peteni, is a nonagenarian: she is in her nineties. She was born and raised in South Africa, where she saw World War II from afar, the institutionalization of Apartheid, the decolonization of nearly an entire continent, and the eventual liberation of her own people, led by her late husband’s old classmate, Nelson Mandela. In her words, she cried, and ever cried, when her baby girl married ‘that activist refugee’ in Botswana, because what were they ever going to do? Would they be safe? She tells and often retells the most interesting stories I’ve ever heard. I call her Makhulu. I’m happy she’s alive.
Earlier this year, Makhulu expressed interest to my uncle in coming to the United States to visit - and stay - with her baby girl, my mother. A few weeks later, she hopped on a plane for a trip around the world, landing in Andover, Massachusetts, where my family lives. Makhulu is sprightly and spry. She follows the national polls closely, worrying that Romney will defeat Obama in November, but acknowledging that anyone is better than Palin. Her tennis fandom is real and delightful. On her way to the hospital, she insisted above all, that we tape the quarter- and semifinals of Wimbledon, in case she made it back. She wanted to watch Serena. The week of July 4th, Makhulu had a heart attack. Getting new health insurance for a nonagenarian is almost comedic folly: not worth it. But it came with real risks. She isn’t American, after all.
I arrived late on July 4th on a flight from San Francisco, harried and heavy of heart. The doctors were amazed that she had survived, and transferred her from the emergency room to the ICU for further monitoring. Soon, the attending physician came to give us our options. He said we could do a catheterization, an invasive surgery which runs in the tens of thousands of dollars. I was soon to find out that MassHealth, the universal health care program in Massachusetts, included coverage for family members who were visiting Massachusetts residents, citizens or not. My grandmother got what she describes as “the best care she had ever received in her life”, and from “the nicest white people in the world,” no less. She was comprehensively treated, and returned home in time to watch Serena win singles and doubles in the same day. She was happy for Serena, and to be alive. We paid a co-pay, and for prescription medicine. Massachusetts, in our weakness and helpless mortality, gave us a chance.
That Fourth of July is my most memorable to date. The United States saved my grandmother, even though there was nothing in it for them besides level-headed compassion for its citizens, and their loved ones. And the great irony of the evening fell upon me when I realized that this MassHealth law, a federal version of which is under fierce debate, was invented and deployed by the very man who campaigns against it on the national stage. It is efficient, compassionate, carefully written and wisely deployed. Thank you, Mr. Romney. And by God, America!! — lets do our part for Obamacare.
- DEMOCRATS: Yes please, let’s provide affordable health insurance to an additional 30 million people who might otherwise have no access to some semblance of quality care.
- REPUBLICANS: No, please don’t.
- DEMOCRATS: But it’s the right thing to d—
- REPUBLICANS: No, it’s okay. The insurance companies say so. And I’m sure those 30 million people will find coverage somehow.
- DEMOCRATS: What a bunch of BS.
- REPUBLICANS: No really, they will. Besides they’ve gone this long without health insurance. Why do they need it now?
- DEMOCRATS: You know, just in case they get steamrolled by conservatives who don’t seem to give a squat about the health and welfare of their fellow Americans.
- REPUBLICANS: Nah, that would never happen. Excuse me for a minute, I have to go make sure my corporations continue to receive billions of dollars in tax breaks.
- DEMOCRATS: So just to be sure — if we were in, say, Massachusetts, you’d be okay with universal healthcare, right?
- REPUBLICANS: No no, that’s just Romney.
- DEMOCRATS: You mean Mitt Romney, your presidential candidate?
- REPUBLICANS: Yeah, that’s him.
- DEMOCRATS: Let me ask you a question: when’s the last time you saw a doctor? Because I think you need meds. Meds that make you sympathetic to the plight and hardships of others.
- REPUBLICANS: But I already have a prescription for that. It’s called pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.
- DEMOCRATS: You’re an idiot.
- REPUBLICANS: But a rich one!