Friday, March 30, 2012

Scalialand, Home of the Free

Last night on the Daily Show, John Stewart played a bit of back and forth between U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli and Justice Antonin Scalia from the Supreme Court hearing about the Affordable Care Act:

Verrilli: In the health care market, [the uninsured are] going into that market without the ability to pay for what you get, getting the health care service anyway because of the social norms… to which we've obligated ourselves, so --

Scalia: So don't obligate yourself to that.
Which is a modest proposal to just let them die.

There it was, baldly put. Anyone who doesn't have insurance should just die. The idea that had seemed beyond the pale when it was called out by audience members during a Republican debate last fall was now being said by a member of the Supreme Court.

Then this morning in the Star Tribune letters to the editor, there was this from writer Michael Schwartz of St Louis Park:
As soon as the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare, I hope and expect that the true conservatives in Congress will pass a "No Care for Freeloaders" law -- if you don't have insurance and don't have a big wad of cash in your back pocket, you sit outside the hospital doors and stay sick, or die if that's what it comes to. At least you will die proud to have kept your liberty.
I'm still not sure if Schwartz was serious or writing a parody, but that's the point we've come to.

As if all or even most of the people without insurance are without it because they decided not to buy it. Everyone without it is a hypothetical healthy 30-year-old who decided not to pay. And as if a penalty, such as death, it will make people buy it. Right?

Because, the assumption is, being without health insurance couldn't possibly result from not being able afford it, or being able to afford only bad insurance that's revoked right when it's needed. Maybe you're too sick to work to afford it, as in the case of Nikki White, described in T.R. Reid's book The Healing of America, so you lose your insurance. Or maybe you have preexisting conditions that make you uninsurarable.

What reality do Scalia and Schwartz live in? What country is this?

Update: Here's a good example of a person who will die with her liberty intact under the current system. A woman with advanced cervical cancer, undiagnosed and untreated because she had no insurance.


Unemployed Dragon said...

This would have been me last year when I arrived at our public hospital with a massive headache due to hydrocephalus because of shunt failure. Scalia would have had me die an agonizing death. Thankfully, San Francisco sees fit to take care of those of us abandoned by the health insurance industry.

What a country we live in.

Daughter Number Three said...

The theory of states (or localities) that pass universal health care, like Hawaii, or Vermont, or the attempts here in Minnesota, is that it will mirror the way it spread from one province in Canada. I wonder if it will. Hasn't happened out of Hawaii or S.F. yet. If Vermont really implements it, maybe.