In his latest Op-Ed, the New York Times columnist rips the Republican presidential ticket for a health care plan that would deny potentially millions of Americans coverage in order to save money—all while proposing a trillion-dollar tax cut that would help the wealthiest Americans.
Krugman argues that recent comments by Mitt Romney demonstrate that he “has no idea what life (and death) are like for those less fortunate than himself.”
Last week, Romney claimed that Americans do not die because they lack health insurance. That followed an earlier comment in which he suggested that emergency care is a good alternative for the uninsured, which is a point George W. Bush once made.
According to Krugman, those assertions are flat-out wrong. He writes:
The idea that everyone gets urgent care when needed from emergency rooms is false. Yes, hospitals are required by law to treat people in dire need, whether or not they can pay. But that care isn’t free — on the contrary, if you go to an emergency room you will be billed, and the size of that bill can be shockingly high. Some people can’t or won’t pay, but fear of huge bills can deter the uninsured from visiting the emergency room even when they should. And sometimes they die as a result.
... So the reality, to which Mr. Romney is somehow blind, is that many people in America really do die every year because they don’t have health insurance.
The sad reality is that the number of people who die because they do not have health care coverage in the U.S. runs into the thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands, each year.
According to Krugman, tens of millions of Americans would be left without coverage if the Republican ticket is elected. As he points out, the Romney-Ryan health care plan would call for repealing Obamacare, slash Medicaid funding and replace the current Medicare system with a voucher system. The first two actions would leave roughly 45 million non-elderly Americans uninsured, while the latter would leave many senior citizens in this country with inadequate health coverage.
And what would they do with the money saved? Why, give rich people a tax break, of course.
Let’s be brutally honest here. The Romney-Ryan position on health care is that many millions of Americans must be denied health insurance, and millions more deprived of the security Medicare now provides, in order to save money. At the same time, of course, Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy. So a literal description of their plan is that they want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income.
As Krugman states at the beginning of the article, this is a reality the GOP White House candidate wants to ignore:
Mitt Romney doesn’t see dead people. But that’s only because he doesn’t want to see them; if he did, he’d have to acknowledge the ugly reality of what will happen if he and Paul Ryan get their way on health care.
For many Americans, it would be an ugly reality indeed.
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.