Republicans have a hard time explaining how they would make up for the loss in coverage to 32 million Americans if they succeed in repealing the Affordable Care Act. Deregulating the health insurance market and instituting malpractice reform will only do so much — in fact, a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the GOP’s standard health care plan found that such an approach would only extend coverage to three million people and actually increase the overall uninsured rate — and so the party is often forced to look at other less dependable sources for health care: charity.
Last month, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he would “prefer to see” health care “come from charitable organizations” and on Saturday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) told a woman in Winterset, Iowa that her son, who currently receives health insurance through Medicaid, could rely on charities to meet his health care needs once Republicans repeal President Obama’s health law:
“We will always have people in this country through hardship, through no fault of their own, who won’t be able to afford health care,” Bachmann said. “That’s just the way it is. But usually what we have are charitable organizations or hospitals who have enough left over so that they can pick up the cost for the indigent who can’t afford it.
“But what we have to do is be a profitable nation that’s growing, so that we can pay for those people who can’t afford it through no fault of their own. Once ‘Obamacare’ is gone, this is what we have to do.“
Before the advent of Medicare and Medicaid, charities did provide health care to those in need. But to suggest that they can do the same today is to misunderstand the enormity of the health care crisis, as charities simply do not have the capacity to handle the demand. As the number of uninsured creeps up to 50 million, for any politician to argue that government should outsource the task of keeping Americans healthy to charities is like saying that people should be punished with death if they are unfortunate enough to be poor or are priced out of insurance due to a pre-existing health condition.