In a February 13 Speakout column in the Rocky Mountain News, Jared Polis, the gazillionaire running for Congress (in my district), argued:
[L]et us not delude ourselves into thinking that we have anything close to a “free market” in health care. A free market would allow the uninsured to die on the hospital doorstep rather than provide them treatment they cannot pay for. Having made a moral decision not to allow people in our great country to die in this fashion, let us discuss how to more efficiently provide for sensible universal health care.
Polis is correct that we do not have a free market in health care, but his description of a free market is completely ridiculous. My dad and I have already addressed the argument that Polis makes, and I wrote a lengthier critique along the same lines.
Brian Schwartz challenged Polis directly. In a comment to Polis’s article, Schwartz argued:
Jared Polis writes: “A free market would allow the uninsured to die on the hospital doorstep rather than provide them treatment they cannot pay for.”
This is a pathetic argument. Is Mr. Polis so heartless that he wouldn’t help such a person if the law didn’t compel him to do so? Or if he would, does he think that doctors are so heartless? Give me a break, Jared.
In the wake of the French Revolution, French economist Frederic Bastiat wrote that “every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all…It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
Apparently nothing has changed.
And on his blog, Schwartz adds:
[I]t is not hard to imagine that our community would provide such care even if a politician’s law didn’t compel us to do so. It’s not hard to imagine, because people do it. Consider the Shriners Hospitals for Children. According to Charity Navigator, their total revenue exceeed $640 million in 2005. In Colorado, private philanthropy accounted for almost $200 million in medical care for the uninsured. …
The above examples do not address emergency situations, but it’s difficult to imagine that people in our society would voluntarily donate money to provide medical care for the uninsured in non-emergency situations, but not in emergency situations. Jared Polis, can you shed some light on this?
According to Jared Polis, a law is required compel doctors to treat the uninsured in emergency situations. Is Polis saying that doctors are so heartless and cruel that they would not treat someone for free? Is he saying that the electorate as too callous to fund charities to pay such that doctors could treat the uninsured in emergency situations?
Apparently, the answer is “yes.” Polis writes that we have “made a moral decision not to allow people in our great country to die in this fashion.” Not quite. Moral decisions are a matter of choice, not a threat. EMTALA threatens doctors with penalties up to $50,000 for not complying.
So Jared Polis thinks that the citizens of Colorado and Colorado’s physicians must be forced to do the right thing, since they lack the moral fiber to do it themselves. And yet, Jared Polis seeks public office, to represent us, the very people he doesn’t trust to do the right thing. So if the (apparently immoral) citizens of Colorado’s 2nd District elect Mr. Polis, how can we trust him to do the right thing?
Polis is clearly out of his depth. So he should fit right in should he move to Washington, D.C.