The meanness that underlies the health care debate was on full display during the Republican presidential candidates’ debate in Florida.
Moderator Wolf Blitzer cut though Ron Paul’s rambling response to a question about whether an uninsured patient should receive extended intensive care treatment for a catastrophic illness.
“But congressman,” Blitzer said, “are you saying the society should just let him die?”
From the audience came whoops, applause and cries of “Yeah!”
Even more disturbingly, not one of the eight candidates spoke up to protest that reaction.
Irrationality continues to infect health care discussions, even as the Affordable Care Act is showing positive results.
Census figures show the percentage of people ages 18 to 24 without insurance dropped 2 percentage points since 2009. It was the only group to show a decrease in the rate of uninsured, and it benefits from a provision in the new law allowing adult children to remain on parents’ insurance plans up to age 26.
The growth in Medicare spending also is slowing as hospitals move toward efficiency and quality measures demanded in the law.
But encouraging trends are lost on “Obamacare” detractors.
Bedlam broke out in Jefferson City last week when a group of GOP senators attending a hearing to protest the creation of a state insurance exchange got the mistaken idea that bureaucrats were authorizing the exchange at that very moment at the order of Gov. Jay Nixon.
The senators charged across town to where the board of the Missouri Health Insurance Pool was discussing a $21 million federal grant to help build the technological infrastructure for an exchange. After consulting with the senators, the board postponed action on a resolution to accept the grant.
Similar nonsense has prevailed in Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback foolishly returned a $31.5 million federal grant to design an exchange.
These politicians hope that by being obstinate, they can derail the health care reform law they so despise. But they are denying their states the opportunity to design affordable, consumer-friendly insurance marketplaces.
Opponents of reform need to tell the public what they intend to do about the problem of uninsured Americans. “Let them die” isn’t an acceptable fallback position.
Copyright Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.