josh rosner

Posts Tagged ‘American’

DON’T GET SICK IN AMERICA, OR, WHY AMERICA IS SICK

In United States of America on September 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm

I’ve visited the United States a number of times in my life. I’ve traveled by plane, train and automobile from one coast to the other. I’ve been on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building and I’ve stood in the Jungle Room at Graceland. I’ve looked out over New York City from the top floor observation deck of the World Trade Centre (almost 10 years to the day before it fell) and I’ve been soaked to the bone by water barreling over Niagara Falls. I even turned 21 at a quint little town in Texas: Amarillo, where I wore a stetson and road a mechanical bull – in the lobby of a restaurant! But one thing I’ve never done during many trips to America is make use of its health system. Touch wood, I’ve never been sick while traveling America. Never needed a doctor or a pharmacy or a hospital. I hope it stays that way, because when it comes to health care the U.S. is in serious trouble.

During a recent Tea Party Republican presidential debate, the issue of health care was raised. Before going into detail about the tone of the debate, let me offer a brief summary: if you have no health insurance and you present to a hospital emergency room on death’s door you: a) are worthy of Tea Party laughter and, b) don’t deserve to receive potentially life-saving treatment. America: land of the free, home of the brave!!

During the debate, U.S. Representative Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas and also a doctor, was asked a hypothetical question by the host of the debate, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. The question: how should society respond if a healthy 30-year-old man who decided against buying health insurance suddenly does into a coma and requires intensive care for six months. The response seems intuitive to me. Any fair and reasonable person would suggest that he receive the treatment he needs. Yes? No, not in America.

Ron Paul – a fierce advocate of limited-government – told the audience it should not be the government’s responsibility. He said, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks.” Ron Paul started to say more but was drowned out by the audience’s robust applause. He finally added, “This whole idea that you have to prepare to care for everybody…” He was interrupted by Wolf Blitzer, “Are you saying that society should just let him die?”

Again, any fair and reasonable person – particularly one hoping to be president of a nation with $14 trillion in national debt – would respond by saying no, of course he should not be left to die. You got it….not in America. At this point in the debate, several audience members shouted, “Yeah!” followed by laughter, in response to Blitzer’s question. Ron Paul finally responded, disagreeing with the audience. “No”, he said, mentioning his time practicing medicine before the introduction of Medicaid (because he is really old!) when churches covered medical costs, “We never turned anybody away from the hospital.” Well, good then. Paul did go on to note that the reason medical costs have skyrocketed in the United States is because individuals have stopped taking personal responsibility for their health care.

The day after the debate, Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry (really America, you want another Texan in the White House?) criticised the audience response. “I was a bit taken aback by that myself”, Perry told NBC News. “We’re the party of life. We ought to be coming up with ways to save lives”.

Self-styled conservative commentator and blogger (Note: He’s not really conservative), Andrew Sullivan, writing for The Daily Beast’s The Dish, noted that the United States obligates society to save someone in an emergency room. “America, moreover, has a law on the books that makes it a crime not to treat and try to save a human being who walks into an emergency room. So, we have already made that collective decision and if the GOP wants to revisit it, they can”, Sullivan wrote. Sullivan also decried the audience reaction, writing, “Maybe a tragedy like the death of a feckless twenty-something is inevitable if we are to restrain healthcare costs, but it’s still a tragedy. It isn’t something a decent person cheers”.

The moral of the story is threefold. First, don’t get sick in America if you are an American. Second, never, ever, get sick in America if you aren’t American. Third, Americans may be the only people left on the planet who believe America is still a super-power.