Paul Ryan’s Priority. Hint: It’s Not Affordable Health Care

This past Sunday on Face The Nation, host John Dickerson asked Speaker Paul Ryan how many people will lose health care coverage under Ryan’s “American Health Care Act.” Ryan’s answer informs us to his priority.

I can’t answer that question. It’s up to people. Here—here’s the premise of your question. Are you going to stop mandating people buy health insurance? People are going to do what they want to do with their lives because we believe in individual freedom in this country. So the question is, are we providing a system where people have access to health insurance if they choose to do so? And the answer is yes. But are we going to have some nice looking spreadsheet that says we, the government of the American—of the United States are going to make people buy something and, therefore, they’re all going to buy it? No. That’s the fatal conceit of Obamacare in the first place.

So it’s not our job to make people do something that they don’t want to do. It is our job to have a system where people can get universal access to affordable coverage if they choose to do so or not. That’s what we’re going to be accomplishing.

Let’s pull this apart.

“People are going to do what they want to do with their lives.”

Sure, Bob can choose to not buy health care insurance, but maybe Bob can’t afford insurance, which means it’s not much of a choice. And Bob is not the only person affected by his “choice.” When Bob gets sick, he’ll likely end up in the emergency room. He might get stuck with a large bill he is unable to pay. This raises costs for us all.

“…because we believe in individual freedom in this country.”

Ryan, I guess, is implying that every other advanced nation on the planet that provides universal health care is filled with people who do not believe in individual freedom. Apparently it is a uniquely American phenomenon to believe tens of millions of people who are unable to afford health care are a more free people. Well, at least you have your “individual freedom”!

“Are we providing a system where people have access to health insurance if they choose to do so?”

That is some mind-fucking Republican jujutsu.

They keep talking about access. Well fuck yeah, everyone has access because anyone can walk into an emergency room. But if you can’t afford health care insurance and health care services, your access to health care is pretty God-damn limited. There are poor people in this country who show up in the emergency room with a life-threatening heart condition requiring surgery. They get operated on, and then they never follow-up on the care they need after the operation because they don’t have insurance and can’t afford it. That’s what Ryan calls “access,” you know, “if they choose to do so.”

“[I]t’s not our job to make people do something that they don’t want to do. It is our job to have a system where people can get universal access to affordable coverage if they choose to do so or not. That’s what we’re going to be accomplishing.”

Another Republican mind-grenade.

Well, if we provided true universal coverage, we wouldn’t even be talking about making “people do something that they don’t want to do.” And no, “universal access to affordable coverage” is not what Ryan and fellow Republicans are trying to accomplish. How could they? After all, they are slaves to the health insurance lobby and victims to their own arbitrary, ill-defined, small government, fiscal ideology.

Paul Ryan’s “health care” plan is to cut the tax “burden” to the wealthy while decreasing government spending. To carry out his plan he must remain blind to the collateral damage. He wants to trade health care for the poor for tax cuts for the rich, meaning 24 million Americans will lose insurance over the next 10 years while at the same time the wealthy receive a $600 billion tax cut. Ryan is telling poor families to take a hike while receiving a $223,500 government salary and a generous government health care insurance plan for his family, paid in-part by those poor families. The very least Ryan could do, if his fiscal conservatism was consistent, is include repeal of congressional health insurance. Then Ryan too can have that choice he keeps talking about.

Sounds about right, because “universal access to affordable coverage ” is not Paul Ryan’s priority.

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