The Romney camp has spent the past month trying to dig out of some holes – his 47 percent comments, the binders of women. But on health insurance, Romney decided to just keep digging.
Last month, Romney suggested emergency rooms are a sound alternative to health insurance when he said, “Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance. If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and – and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care.”
But this wasn't a one-time event. This month in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch's editorial board, Romney again claimed that people don't die in their apartment because they don't have insurance.
From the Huffington Post:
“'We don't have a setting across this country where if you don't have insurance, we just say to you, 'Tough luck, you're going to die when you have your heart attack,' he added in the interview. 'No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it's paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital.”'
Aside from the ridiculousness of supporting a policy that forces charities and hospitals to pay the outlandish costs of visits that could have prevented, Romney's claim isn't even true for about 45,000 people a year. According to Talking Points Memo:
” A 2009 study conducted at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance, and published in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that 'lack of health insurance is associated with as many as 44,789 deaths per year in the United States, more than those caused by kidney disease. … The increased risk of death attributable to uninsurance suggests that alternative measures of access to medical care for the uninsured, such as community health centers, do not provide the protection of private health insurance.'”
There are other estimates of the number of deaths – some slightly lower. But by any estimate, there are tens of thousands of people who die each year because they couldn't afford the things health insurance could have made available: cancer screenings, preventative care, prescription medication, and life-saving treatments, to name a few. And we have a presidential candidate too unfamiliar with people who actually face financial difficulties to realize anything like this is even possible.