The late night hosts emotional appeal about his sons heart condition which urged Americans to support Obamacare struck a raw nerve
I dont know why everyone in America is so obsessed with health care reform and why it causes endless debate. It seems obvious that there is a very simple and very fair solution to this endless reform rigmarole: let poor people die.
This may sound sort of harsh, but bear with me. I didnt arrive at this conclusion without a rigorous analysis of the facts and a long, hard look at cold, hard reality. And its this sort of objective thinking thats really needed when it comes to healthcare reform. The one thing we must be careful not to do is get emotional about things like life and death to push a political agenda.
Take Jimmy Kimmel, for example. On Monday, the talkshow host delivered an emotional monologue about his new son, who was born with severe heart defects requiring emergency surgery. At the end of this, he urged Americans to support the Affordable Care Act.
Kimmel noted that before the ACA, also known as Obamacare, was introduced, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance youd never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition and if your parents didnt have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition. If your baby is going to die and it doesnt have to, it shouldnt matter how much money you make.
While Kimmels story is obviously tragic, hes not exactly qualified to decide important policy issues for America. I mean, the guy is a celebrity, not a politician. Further, it is selfish to suggest that Americans should feel some sort of responsibility for their fellow citizens. It doesnt matter how sick someone might be or how many pre-existing conditions they might have if theyre hardworking and motivated they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find a way to pay for themselves.
As Joe Walsh, a former congressman, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon: Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesnt obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody elses health care. Walsh, by the way, doesnt even want to pay for his own kids healthcare at one point, he owed $117,000 in child support. Now theres a guy who truly understands the American values of individual freedom and choice.
Oh, you know what? I give up. Theres no point attempting to satirize the sick state of Americas attitude towards healthcare its already beyond parody. I mean, on Monday, the Republican congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama implied that people with pre-existing health conditions just werent living their lives the right way. Kimmels son may have been fresh out of the womb but he must have done something wrong to be landed with heart problems, right?
And remember when Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican congressman, compared heathcare to iPhones? Americans have choices, Chaffetz explained. Maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest it in their own healthcare. An iPhone costs about $800. A simple appendectomy can cost up to $180,000. But making your own choices? Thats priceless.
And then theres the inimitable Paul Ryan, who reminded us that freedom is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need. Obamacare is Washington telling you what to buy regardless of your needs. He forgot to add the bit about freedom being the option to die when you cant afford to buy what you want to fit what you need.
Health insurance simply doesnt work on the free market. Its not a bloody iPhone. In a free market, it makes no sense for insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. In a free market, it makes sense for CEOs of insurance companies to earn millions of dollars while poor people die.
Health insurance also isnt efficient on a truly free market. According to the Bloomberg Health-Care Efficiency Index, the US has one of the least efficient health care systems in the world because it is so fragmented. Only Jordan, Colombia, Azerbaijan, Brazil and Russia ranked lower in the countries assessed.
For decades, Americans have been aggressively sold the idea that a national healthcare system is a socialist nightmare that runs counter to American values of freedom and choice. This started after the second world war, when President Harry Truman proposed a universal national health insurance program. His project failed in large part because it was fiercely attacked by the once influential American Medical Association.
The AMA invoked fears about communism and branded the idea of universal healthcare as socialized medicine and un-American. Truman retorted: I put it to you, it is un-American to visit the sick, aid the afflicted or comfort the dying? I thought that was simple Christianity. Well, its not the sort of Christianity that Republicans practice, it seems.
You must have been born with inoperable heart defects not to agree with Kimmels statement that if your baby is going to die and it doesnt have to, it shouldnt matter how much money you make.
The fact that Kimmel can make headlines for pointing out what should be the obvious in a supposedly civilized country is just mind-boggling. The health care debate may seem complex but at its core it boils down to a simple question of who matters and who doesnt. And it seems very clear that, in America, if youre poor you dont matter.