“Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care” claimed Representative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) at a May 5 town hall. Republicans seem intent on testing this statement in practice. Trying to put the cat back in the bag, he later released a statement explaining that “all hospitals are required by law to treat patients in need of emergency care regardless of their ability to pay and …the Republican plan does not change that.”
With no background in health care and, apparently, no connection to any human being with a chronic illness, Mr. Labrador may not understand that common conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, if left untreated, or inadequately treated, have serious consequences like kidney failure, stroke, blindness, and amputations. In fact, it is exactly the advanced stages of these chronic conditions that kills millions of people every year.
When patients with untreated conditions finally arrive in the Emergency Department or on the operating room table, their disease has often progressed beyond our capacity, or ability, to treat. We have highly skilled, dedicated professionals with incredible technology at their fingertips, but not magic wands. We cannot turn the clock back. We cannot undo damage already done. We don’t save everyone. The preventable or postponable complications of disease cannot be prevented or postponed without routine primary care visits and basic medications, the very things Trumpcare would put even further out of reach for millions. One estimate is that Trumpcare would cause over 200,000 preventable deaths.