Passing the baton of irony

Back during the whole health care reform fight, Investors Business Daily wrote an editorial in which they tried to claim that if government were more involved in health care, it would (of course) result in rationing. People would be evaluated by bureaucrats, and if found wanting, they would let them die. As an example of this, they chose world-reknown physicist Stephen Hawking, who has a severe motor neuron disease:

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

You see their point? A government system would have just looked at a man like Stephen Hawking, said he was uncurable, and let him die. Then, the world would have been deprived of his genius. There was just one problem. Stephen Hawking was born in Great Britian, and has lived in, and been cared for by, the NHS his entire life. In his own words:

“I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS,” he told us. “I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

In case the irony is lost on you, the NHS is a completely socialized health care system. The government doesn’t just pay for it; the government runs the entire show. Stephen Hawking is a perfect example of just the opposite of what IBD was trying to say. They have since edited the editorial to remove the incredible irony that destroyed their whole argument, but left the rest of the piece up.

I was thinking of this when I watched the following part of the debate last night:

[I had to remove the embedded video due to an RSS error. I believe this is where to find it: — Austin]

Herman Cain is trying to say that under the ACA, he would not have been able to survive his colon cancer. Under the ACA, bureaucrats have sat around and debated whether he’d get his care, and that would have resulted in delays that might have killed him.

Where to start?

First of all, there is no part of the ACA which sets up a “death panel” which debates whether individuals should get the care their doctor says they need. That’s a lie. In fact it was “lie of the year“. So please stop saying that.

Secondly, Mr. Cain attributes his excellent outcome to the fact that once his cancer was detected, there were no delays in getting subsequent CT scans, tests, second opinions, and therapy. I’m not sure that Mr. Cain is aware that he was only able to get those things in a speedy fashion either because he had health insurance or because he is very wealthy. If you’re uninsured, you will experience enormous delays in getting tests, second opinions, and therapy, as you figure out how to get them paid for. In many cases, you may not get them at all. In other words, if you’re uninsured, you are more likely to die.

Say what you will, but the ACA gets more people insurance. In fact, if gets more people private insurance. So the idea that this somehow will lead to less care for people diagnosed with colon cancer is exactly backwards.*

Moreover, if you’re uninsured and can’t afford to pay for it out of pocket, your wait time for your screening colonoscopy is effectively forever. To fix this, the ACA specifically makes it easier for people to get screened. It literally says that there can no longer be any co-payments, co-insurance, or out-of-pocket payments for getting a screening colonoscopy.

So let’s recap. The ACA does not include death panels, it gives more people insurance, and it makes colon cancer screening free. You may not like the ACA, but it doesn’t make it more likely that you will die from colon cancer. It does just the opposite. I hope this is a line that Mr. Cain will stop using during his candidacy.

*If your argument is that getting more people care will result in wait times just because there are more people in the system, and not enough capacity, there could be a theoretical bit of truth to that. I don’t think there is, as I think we can increase capacity. But if that’s your argument, then you need to be explicit and say you would see a significant number of people be denied care just so that you can get it faster. I don’t think this is an argument any of the candidates will be endorsing.

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