From a discussion started at Political Carnival:
I’m not sure what Ron Paul says here in this transcript that bothers so many people. Seems relatively rational - not that you have to agree with it, but I don’t see anything evil or stupid.
Yes, he is an artist at evading serious questions in ways that make people forget that there was ever a serious question. He got you…
The serious question, re-stated: How should a free-market health care system deal with the unavoidable cases where people require care to live for which they cannot pay directly and for which they are not insured?
Ron Paul tried to evade this question 3 times in the transcript that you quoted before Blitzer stopped calling him on his non-answering schtick. The closest he came to an answer was this:
Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it.
Despite his charming anecdote about his own work at one hospital before Medicaid, the hard evidence tells us that this model was a failure. We have a law prohibiting hospitals from turning away emergency patients because hospitals *WERE* turning away emergency patients because they could not pay. Ron Paul’s proposed solution was a proven failure decades ago. He is not an idiot and he is a physician, so surely he knows that. He takes advantage of the fact that a lot of people don’t think much about policy and a lot of people don’t bother to even learn objective historical facts, so his vague proposals that are radically different from current policy seem reasonable to them. The fact that we know with absolute certainty based on historical evidence that charity, family, and social connections will not finance unanticipated and uninsured need for care is not particularly relevant because Ron Paul’s supporters don’t bother looking at the actual historical record. They assume that Ron Paul would not lie to them about verifiable historical facts, but actually he does so on a regular basis. It seems to be a conscious tactical choice, and it seems to work. It worked on you.
As a matter of verifiable fact, to this day people are routinely refused non-urgent care because they can’t pay. Anyone can get care when close enough to death to require emergency care, but people who are not on the verge of death and can’t pay don’t get the care necessary to avoid emergency need. For example: an insulin-dependent diabetic has to pay for his own insulin, but if he ends up in a diabetic coma he can get insulin in an ER whether or not he has a means to pay for it. Of course, someone in a diabetic coma needs to have someone who gets them to an ER in time to get that free insulin. More relevant to the question Ron Paul tried to dodge, we have a mechanism in place by which the federal government ends up covering much of the costs of otherwise uncompensated health care, with the rest being covered by spreading costs among everyone with insurance. The current system is far from perfect, but the bottom line is that everyone who pays federal taxes or who pays directly or indirectly for health care in hospitals that participate in federal health programs (i.e. essentially everyone) shares in covering the cost of emergency and essential post-emergency health care for people without formal insurance. Ron Paul seems to think that we need to change that by reverting to the past system that made it seem necessary to upgrade to the current imperfect system, but he offers nothing to support the idea that the current system is actually worse than what it replaced.
FWIW, future replies will be seen at http://grumpybozo.tumblr.com/ since this is getting to be a bit much for a comment thread…