In the case of fetuses and rich people, Republicans insist on the sanctity of life. But in the case of destitute people, infants who imprudently choose working-poor parents and struggling young adults -- basically all riffraff unable to afford health insurance -- the GOP says there's nothing sacred about their stinking lives.
Let 'em die. The uninsured should be left to rot. To the GOP, lack of insurance revokes sanctity of life. A GOP audience at a Republican presidential candidate debate clapped and cheered that morality. More recently, GOP leaders said insuring all Americans should not be the nation's objective.
Instead, the Republican goal is guaranteeing Americans retain the freedom to forgo health insurance.
To the GOP, "freedom" to be uninsured is more important than public health, which could be endangered by an untreated, uninsured, modern-day Typhoid Mary. To Republicans, the "freedom" to be uninsured is more important than the horror of family members watching helplessly as a loved one who foolishly failed to get insurance slowly dies in agony from untreated bone cancer.
One percenters who are members of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's elite club of quarter billionaires can afford the risk of being uninsured. If they fall off a dancing horse, they can pay the medical bills out of pocket. But the non-rich can't afford a trip to the emergency room. For them, being uninsured isn't a freedom. It's bankruptcy. It's death.
No sane non-rich American wants the liberty to be uninsured.
Despite that, the GOP has repeatedly declared its intention to force the freedom to be uninsured down the throats of unwilling non-rich Americans. Last month, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives voted for the 33rd time to repeal or defund ObamaCare. Republicans have tried incessantly in the past two years to kill the law that will soon increase the percentage of Americans covered by health insurance from 84 to 93. If the Republicans could just get Democrats in the Senate to approve that repeal -- and President Obama to sign it -- 30 million Americans would continue to be "free" to choose being uninsured.
The GOP may get that opportunity early next year. Their presidential nominee Mitt Romney has vowed that his top priority "day one, job one" in the White House will be repealing ObamaCare. No matter that it's based on RomneyCare, which Romney signed while governor of Massachusetts; no matter that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare; no matter that Republicans have no plan to cover the 30 million Americans who would lose the opportunity to be insured; no matter how many uninsured people would die as a result, repeal is Romney's top national priority.
Let 'em die, Romney says. Sanctity-Schmanctity.
Similarly, six Republican governors -- Rick Scott (Fla.); Rick Perry (Texas); Phil Bryant (Miss.); Nikki Haley (S.C.); Bobby Jindal (La.); and Terry Branstad (Iowa) -- have announced they will refuse the ObamaCare Medicaid money that's intended to extend insurance to the working poor -- those who earn slightly too much to be covered by Medicaid now. The governors' rejection of Medicaid expansion is expected to give at least 3 million Americans the "freedom" to continue being uninsured.
The governors said they would rebuff the money even though for the first three years, states don't have to contribute a cent to the program. They'll snub the money even though studies have shown expansion of Medicaid improves health and significantly reduces death.
Let 'em die, the GOP governors say. Sanctity-Schmanctity.
Last week, insurance companies that overcharged under the terms of ObamaCare returned $1.1 billion to policy holders and employers who buy coverage. ObamaCare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, requires insurers, depending on their size, to spend between 80 and 85 percent of premium dollars on actual medical care. Insurers that pay too much for fancy penthouse offices and CEO perks must rebate policyholders. This is what Republicans want to deny Americans in exchange for the "freedom" to be uninsured.
The rebate checks went into the mail just one week after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported -- again -- that ObamaCare will lower the nation's budget deficit. That's lower, as in reduce, diminish, decrease the deficit. In fact, the CBO reported that if Republicans had succeeded in getting the law repealed, that would have increased the deficit by $109 billion over nine years. Republicans want to give Americans higher deficits in exchange for the "freedom" to be uninsured.
That's right. Republicans have voted 33 times to enlarge the deficit and take from Americans ObamaCare benefits they love -- like coverage for young adults under their parents' plans until age 26; payments to senior citizens to close the Medicare prescription donut hole; and prohibitions against insurers denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and against dropping policyholders when they get sick.
As Americans realize benefits from ObamaCare, the law increases in popularity. Despite the GOP's massive two-year campaign to kill it, support for ObamaCare has grown steadily, so that now, nearly half the nation backs it.
Still, Americans don't yet love ObamaCare the way citizens of Great Britain adore their National Health Service (NHS). In Great Britain, the half-century-old NHS is so treasured that it received a tribute in the opening ceremony to the Olympics in London. The NHS, like health care in other Western European countries, covers everyone.
That's exactly what Republicans don't want -- a system that insures all Americans. Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, put it this way when asked how to extend coverage to the nation's uninsured:
"Let me tell you what we're not going to do. We're not going to turn the American health care system into a Western European system."
Nope. He'd rather let Americans die. Sanctity-Schmanctity.
Follow Leo W. Gerard on Twitter: www.twitter.com/uswblogger