Mitt Romney doubled down on his suggestion that uninsured Americans can find the care they need in emergency rooms, telling The Dispatch that people will always receive the treatment they need, and do not die or suffer because they can not pay for care. He pointed to federal law that requires hospitals to admit emergency patients, repeating his advice that patients rely on the most expensive form of care reserved strictly for emergencies. Romney told the Columbus Dispatch:
“We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack,’ ” he said as he offered more hints as to what he would put in place of “Obamacare,” which he has pledged to repeal.
“No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”
He pointed out that federal law requires hospitals to treat those without health insurance — although hospital officials frequently say that drives up health-care costs.
Emergency rooms serve as a place of last resort, but 45,000 Americans still die every year because they lack health insurance, or one every 12 minutes. Uninsured adults under age 65 are also at a 40 percent higher death risk. Hospitals may treat patients for emergency medical conditions regardless of legal status or ability to pay, but patients with chronic conditions that don’t require emergency interference are often unable to access needed care.
Romney’s health care proposal would leave 72 million Americans without health insurance and wouldn’t provide all uninsured Americans with a stable source of insurance.