People, real people by the thousands every year, are dying for lack of medical treatment in the world's richest nation, and after a week of politicians posturing over piles of paper, policy wonks are stunning us with this truth.
A new study shows 68 Americans under age 65 die every day because they don’t have health care, a number that will rise to 84 by 2019--a total of 275,000 needless deaths in a decade.
The numbers from an advocacy group, Families USA, comport with earlier estimates by the Urban Institute and the Institute of Medicine, dry statistics that conceal mass murder by indifference without concentration camps or gas chambers.
Sophisticates who consider such statements overwrought should explain how their cost-benefit analyses make such an outcome inevitable as they advocate, in Sen. Tom Coburn's response to the President's weekly address today, that we "scrap the current bills, which will lead to a government takeover of health care, and we should start over."
Along with this prescription for indifference, a leading GOP presidential hopeful for 2012, Tim Pawlenty, wants to change federal law to allow emergency rooms to turn away patients--"do a little triage," even for those who come in with what Fox's Greta Van Susteren described as "horrible chest pains." (Pace Sarah Palin and her Democratic death panels!)
At the Health Care Summit Thursday, several Democrats tried to focus the discussion on what their constituents are suffering under the current system, but the Republican response was typified by smug Eric Cantor tapping his pile of papers and insisting that "we Republicans care just as much about health care as the Democrats do," while questioning the legality of forcing all Americans to buy health insurance.
At the end of the day, Cantor and his cohorts made it clear that they "simply don’t want to pass comprehensive health-care reform," while the President said of the uninsured, “We can debate whether we can afford to help them. We can’t say they don’t need help.”
As GOP numbers crunchers press their argument with dollar figures, their constituents should take a look at the costs in human lives which, in a time when catastrophic illness can overwhelm middle-class families as readily as the poor, is a threat across the economic and political spectrum.
Making health care reform an us-against-them issue is insane.