Last night, in a controversial speech on the House floor, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) announced that the Republican alternative health care proposals would force sick Americans to “die quickly”:
It’s my duty and pride tonight to be able to announce exactly what the Republicans plan to do for health care in America… It’s a very simple plan. Here it is. The Republican health care plan for America: “don’t get sick.” If you have insurance don’t get sick, if you don’t have insurance, don’t get sick; if you’re sick, don’t get sick. Just don’t get sick. … If you do get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: “die quickly.”
No Republican wants Americans to die, but the party’s efforts to stonewall meaningful health care reform perpetuate a status quo in which 45,000 Americans die every year because they lack health care coverage and thousands more see their policies canceled or denied by private insurers that are beholden to Wall Street’s profit expectations and not patient health.
Grayson intentionally over-stated his case. It’s not that Republicans want to kill people; it’s that their opposition to meaningful health care reform and their “free market” alternatives would further deregulate insurers and allow companies to continue pushing individuals into high deductible policies that don’t provide adequate coverage and actually harm Americans who can’t afford their medical bills:
“Don’t get sick.” Under the Republican alternatives, private insurers will deny coverage to Americans who suffer from chronic illnesses like cancers or asthma and lure healthier applicants into high deductible policies that provide limited coverage once they become sick.
“Die quickly.” If Americans in these policies do fall ill, they will go bankrupt paying off their medical bills and join the 78 percent of bankruptcy filers burdened by health care expenses who had health insurance but “still were overwhelmed by their medical debt.” Grayson is facetiously suggesting that Americans would be urged to skip the “bankruptcy” part, avoid being a financial burden on their family, and simply pass away.
In other words, the Republican alternatives harm Americans by placing our fate in the hands of the very same private for-profit corporations that have created the health care crisis in the first place.