Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mitt channels Ebenezer Scrooge on 60 Minutes

Romney says that Americans without health insurance can just go to ER. (photo: Laniado Hospital)
Romney says that Americans without health insurance can just go to ER. (photo: Laniado Hospital)

By Dr Jen Gunter
Wielding the Lasso of Truth
25 September 12

ast night on 60 minutes Mitt Romney was questioned about health care. When asked if the government had a responsibility to care for the fifty million Americans who don't have health insurance he replied,
"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance, people - we - 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."
What Mr. Romney fails to understand is that there is a difference between acute health problems that require an emergency department and, well, the other 99% of medical care. It is true, due to EMTALA if you are uninsured and have a medical condition requiring emergency care that you will not be booted out of the emergency department. Medical professionals don't look at your insurance card before pulling out the crash cart, so you are likely to get excellent emergency care regardless of your ability to pay. 

However, the 70-year-old stroke victim who needs physical therapy can't get that in the ER.

Neither can the two-year-old who needs feeding therapy.

Or the 42-year-old woman who needs chemo for her breast cancer.

Or the 47-year-old man who needs insulin for his diabetes.

Or the 22-year-old who needs a Pap smear.

Or the 6-year-old who needs an influenza vaccine.

What happens when people rely on the ER for their safety net is that they go without care or get a bill that they can't ever hope to pay (and still likely didn't get the care they really needed because an ER can only do so much). Hospitals then have no choice but to either charge health insurances more to recoup their losses or to close their emergency departments.

That is why, Mr. Romney, I have seen and wept over women with breast cancers eroding through their skin. Something that could have been prevented by a mammogram and lumpectomy four years earlier. And I have wept over women with cervical cancers who bled to death for want of a Pap smear and a simple office procedure 5 years earlier.

Mr. Romney, what would you say right now to someone suffering from an illness that is inadequately treated (or perhaps not even treated at all) because the have no health insurance or enough money to pay for care. "Are there no emergency rooms?"
What's next, "Are there no work houses?"

Beware ignorance, Mr. Romney.

Dr. Jennifer Gunter is a nationally and internationally renowned obstetrician/gynecologist. She is the recipient of numerous research awards and has published extensively in medical journals and authored many book chapters. "The Preemie Primer" is her first book. Her writing has also appeared in USA Today, the A Cup of Comfort series,,, Exceptional Parent, Parents Press, Sacramento Parent, and the Marin Independent Journal. Dr. Gunter also writes a sexual health column for She has been interviewed by numerous national media outlets and magazines, including, More, US News and World Report, Runner's World, Glamour, Redbook, Woman's World, and Shape.

Dr. Gunter was born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada, and graduated from The University of Manitoba School of Medicine in 1990 at the age of 23. In 1995 she completed her OB/GYN training at the University of Western Ontario and moved to the United States to complete a fellowship in infectious diseases at the University of Kansas. After completing her fellowship she continued her studies in pain medicine and currently is the only OB/GYN in the United States who is board certified in both OB/GYN and pain medicine. Dr. Gunter is one of the select few physicians in the United States who holds four board certifications.


Anonymous said...

While touching, your comments overlook the fact that the six year old needing a flu shot can have that PAID FOR by his PARENTS. The 20 year old needing the Pap test can PAY FOR IT herself. Somehow in this country people have gotten the idea that "someone else," i.e., insurance companies, should pay for our medical care.

There is no law saying that people can't pay for their own care. They just have to choose to give up the $100 a month cell phone plan, the $125 a month cable TV plan, the $50 a month internet plan, the X box, the Wii, the car for the teenagers, the trips to Vegas or Disneyland, etc.

And yes, there are SOME people who don't have those things and still can't afford health care and we as a society should have SOMETHING in place to help those people GET A JOB so they can pay for their health care or buy insurance.

And I agree that insurance companies shouldn't be allowed to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions. We have "assigned risk" pools so drivers with bad records can still get car insurance. Something similar could be established for people with pre-existing conditions.

I have a health plan I pay for myself with a $3000 deductible and my premiums have shot up over $100 a month, to $405 starting next month, because of Obamacare. In exchange, I received a "free" mammogram I otherwise would have had to pay $55 for.

Thank you, Mr. Obama, I'd rather pay for my own mammogram and keep the $1200 a year increase in premiums in my pocket.

And I have a $36.75 a month basic satellite TV plan (I live in the boondocks), a $45 unlimited cell phone plan, no land line, and a $40 internet plan that I must have because my work requires me to have working internet at all times.

I pay the first $3000 of my own medical bills.

Making insurance accessible to people doesn't necessarily make it affordable. But it's ludicrous to complain that people can't afford a $20 flu shot for their 6 year old and this is the reason my premiums should go up $100 a month.

Health care in this country needed reform, but not THIS kind of reform.

I may have to drop my insurance if it goes any higher. So then what have we accomplished?

Anonymous said...

I'd rather see a president act like a Scrooge than a Santa Claus with MY tax money.

Obama like to take credit for all the things he's done for "us" but he's done it with money he doesn't have, that will have to be repaid long after he has retired with his presidential pension and lifetime Secret Service protection and probably free health insurance to boot.

Come on, Scrooge!

Debra Speakes said...

Isn't the 70 year old stroke victim covered by Medicare?