Ron Paul Wasn't Joking About Letting Uninsured People Die -- His Uninsured Staffer Died of Pneumonia
This is an unbelievably sad story, and it proves that Ron Paul was serious when he said (to audience applause) at Monday's CNN-Tea Party debate that society should allow uninsured people to die.
....As it turns out, Paul was not speaking purely in hypotheticals. Back in 2008, Kent Snyder — Paul's former campaign chairman — died of complications from pneumonia. Like the man in Blitzer's example, the 49-year-old Snyder...was relatively young and seemingly healthy when the illness struck. He was also uninsured. [The Kansas City Star quoted his sister at the time as saying that a "a pre-existing condition made the premiums too expensive."] When he died on June 26, 2008, two weeks after Paul withdrew his first bid for the presidency, his hospital costs amounted to $400,000. The bill was handed to Snyder's surviving mother (pictured, left), who was incapable of paying. Friends launched a website to solicit donations.
Somehow, Paul managed to turn Snyder's death into an opportunity to spout off about "freedom" -- you know, the freedom we have to die and leave our families with massive piles of debt.
After Snyder's death, Paul posted a message to the website for his Campaign for Liberty — a pre-Tea Party organization which served Paul as both presidential marketing tool and platform to promote his non-interventionist, free market ideals.
"Like so many in our movement, Kent sacrificed much for the cause of liberty. Kent poured every ounce of his being into our fight for freedom. He will always hold a place in my heart and in the hearts of my family."
Unbelievable. Luckily, Paul is getting a lot of push back for Monday's remarks. For instance, National Nurses United, which recently held a national day of action targeting Wall Street greed, released the following statement:
National Nurses United said the gruesome reaction from many in the audience is a reminder of the growing collapse of civil society in America, and the need for more humane policies. One such step would be to expand Medicare to cover all Americans so that no one has to be in danger of losing their life because they are uninsured.
Nor is it an academic question. Nearly 45,000 deaths in the U.S. every year are associated with lack of health insurance, according to a study this year by Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance published by the American Journal of Public Health.
“It was stunning. My first reaction is how far have we degenerated as a society?” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN who said she was watching the debate.
The nurses union also notes:
“Healthcare should be a right for everyone, not just a privilege for the few, a point nurses would debate with anyone,” said Ross.
Ross said she was also disturbed by Paul’s comment about “freedom.”
“Abandoning people is not freedom,” said Ross, especially those without the resources to buy increasingly expensive private insurance. "That isn’t what I hear from my patients or their families.”
Strikingly, the audience cheers came just hours before the release Tuesday morning of new Census Bureau data showing the number of uninsured Americans this year rising by another 900,000 to 49.9 million people. Concurrently the Census Bureau reported a huge leap in the poverty rate, one reason so many people are without health coverage as insurance premiums alone have doubled in nine years.
Read more about the NNU's efforts to support quality healthcare for all Americans here.