by Max Brantley
Ron Paul told TPM on Wednesday that even if there’s a “case or two” that makes Americans uncomfortable, the government should stay out of the health care business. Even if one of the cases in question is his former campaign manager, Kent Snyder, who died with $400,000 in unpaid medical bills after being unable to secure health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.
At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, Paul took questions from reporters on Snyder, whose story surfaced in the press after Paul said in the last Republican debate that the government should not intervene even to save a comatose 30 year old who did not have insurance. As Gawker noted, Snyder died in June 2008 without health insurance, leaving behind $400,000 in bills. His friends and family set up a fund to raise money to pay off the debt. It’s not clear how much money they were able to raise: a site set up by Ron Paul aide Justine Lam to track the medical fund stopped updating in 2008 with only $34,870 in donations.
“Well first off, people do get care, even under this terrible situation we have in medicine today,” Paul told reporters when asked about his former aide. “Kent, my campaign manager, wasn’t denied any care at all.”
According to Snyder’s friends, he was unable to obtain affordable health insurance — rendering moot Paul’s advice at the debate to find coverage in advance — because of a preexisting condition. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will no longer be able to reject customers on these grounds starting in 2013. I asked Paul whether Snyder’s inability to secure health insurance, even if he wanted it, put him in an impossible situation without government support. He suggested that states and counties could take action to help the sick, but put the emphasis on charity.
“Why do we suddenly lose confidence, that everyone is going to be thrown out into the street?” he said. “It just doesn’t happen and usually there are people that will help. But this idea you throw away the principles of liberty because you have a case or two where you go ‘Oh, I’m nervous about it’ - it just doesn’t justify doing your own thing.”
Is there a Republican presidential candidate or member of Congress who would take exception to what Paul says here?