“Let Him Die”

Erik Wemple does good work here debunking one of the myths of the last GOP debate: The myth that “the audience cheered letting the uninsured die.” All you need to do is watch the video, and hear a couple of dudes shouting “yeah!” at the rhetorical question, to grok this. If you can hear individual voices, you’re not hearing “the audience.” Why are we getting so much about this? Liberal groups have decided to make this week about this. Here’s a web ad that Protect Your Care, a pro-ACA group, is running on some news sites: Screen shot 2011-09-15 at 2.50.29 PM Is the attack unfair? My boss Jacob Weisberg doesn’t think so. As far as it relates to the audience, I don’t think so. What did Ron Paul actually say when asked the question?

BLITZER: A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who’s going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?

PAUL: Well, in a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him.

BLITZER: Well, what do you want?

PAUL: But what he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major medical policy, but not be forced –

BLITZER: But he doesn’t have that. He doesn’t have it, and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?

PAUL: That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody –
BLITZER: But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?

PAUL: No. I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid, in the early 1960s, when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals. And we’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. This whole idea, that’s the reason the cost is so high.
It might not be fair to say “the audience” wanted to let this hypothetical schlub die. It is fair to say that Republicans, who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, should have a policy response to situations like this. Because in Paul’s scenario, the guy probably does die. It’s up to “society,” which should be freed from the oppression of the welfare state, to find the guy and help him out. And that really is a less serious answer than something a supporter of the ACA would have.