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Santorum Claims Nobody Dies Because They Are Uninsured, They Die Due To ‘Poor Decisions’

By Igor Volsky on December 6, 2011 at 9:00 am

"Santorum Claims Nobody Dies Because They Are Uninsured, They Die Due To ‘Poor Decisions’"

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Of all the GOP presidential candidates, Rick Santorum is arguably responsible for the most outrageous claims about health care policy. The former Pennsylvania senator has told people who can’t afford health care to stop whining about the high costs of medical treatments and medications and spend less on non essentials like cable and cell phone bills and even suggested that insurers should deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Yesterday, during a campaign event in Dordt College, in Sioux Center, Iowa, Santorum seemed taken a back when a student asked him “about health care and the Christian responsibility of caring for the poor” and took exception to the suggestion that the uninsured die at a higher rate than the insured population. ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe has this report:

The student said he didn’t “think God appreciates the fact that we have 50 to 100,000 uninsured Americans dying due to a lack of healthcare every year,” citing a 2009 study out of Harvard University.

“Dying?” Santorum answered before going back and forth about the validity of the study.

“The answer is not what can we do to prevent deaths because of a lack of health insurance. There’s — I reject that number completely, that people die in America because of lack of health insurance,” Santorum said to a crowd of 100.

People die in America because people die in America. And people make poor decisions with respect to their health and their healthcare. And they don’t go to the emergency room or they don’t go to the doctor when they need to,” he said. “And it’s not the fault of the government for not providing some sort of universal benefit.”

While the number of people dying due to lack of health insurance may be in some dispute — one recent 2009 study found that 45,000 die in the United States each year because they don’t have access to care, a 2002 study put the number at 18,000 a year, and a 1993 analysis concluded that the uninsured had a 25 percent greater risk of death — it’s hard to deny that forgoing needed treatments or putting off expensive could lead to death. Unfortunately, rather than addressing that problem and expanding coverage, Santorum would rather blame the individuals for their own demise.

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