Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), now the head of the Heritage Foundation, continues to help lead a far-right crusade against the Affordable Care Act for reasons that aren't altogether clear. Yesterday, DeMint brought his traveling circus to Tampa, where he made his pitch to a few hundred supporters (and more than a few opponents).
DeMint said opponents don't have much time to try to make changes to the law before a March 2014 deadline for people to enroll. Benefits will kick in Jan. 1 for those who enroll earlier."This might be that last off-ramp to stop Obamacare before it becomes more enmeshed in our culture," he said. "This is not about getting better health care."DeMint said uninsured Americans "will get better health care just going to the emergency room."
Ah yes, the emergency-room argument. You don't need basic coverage for you and your family -- forget insurance and rely on the folks at your local E.R. This pops up from time to time -- Mitt Romney was using it less than a month before the 2012 election -- but in case anyone's forgotten, let's set the record straight again.
It's true that under the preferred Republican system -- the U.S. system before the Affordable Care Act became law -- if you were uninsured and get sick, you could probably find public hospitals that would provide treatment.
It is, however, extremely expensive to treat patients this way. It's far cheaper -- and more medically effective -- to pay for preventative care so that people don't have to wait for a medical emergency to seek treatment.
For that matter, when sick people with no insurance go to the E.R. for care, they often can't afford to pay their bills. Those costs are ultimately spread around to everyone else -- effectively creating the most inefficient system of socialized medicine ever devised.
Indeed, since hospitals can't treat sick patients for free, the bills can bankrupt those who get sick, and the costs are still passed on to everyone else.
But wait, there's more.
For those with chronic ailments, DeMint's position is laughable -- is anyone going to stop by the emergency room for chemotherapy or diabetes treatments?
The reality is plain for anyone who cares: Americans die because they lack basic coverage. The Republican plan to deal with this national scourge doesn't exist -- the plan is to destroy what took generations to approve, and then hope for the best.
Obamacare's critics are offering a cruel joke, and little else.