Once upon a time, the Heritage Foundation was a genuine think tank, with serious scholars producing serious research. Not any more. The blindly partisan and staggeringly ignorant Jim DeMint is now at the helm and he thinks the alternative to making sure everyone has health insurance is for poor people to just go to the emergency room:
DeMint said opponents don’t have much time to try to make changes to the law before a March 2014 deadline for people to enroll. Benefits will kick in Jan. 1 for those who enroll earlier.
“This might be that last off-ramp to stop Obamacare before it becomes more enmeshed in our culture,” he said. “This is not about getting better health care.”
DeMint said uninsured Americans “will get better health care just going to the emergency room.”
Really? Did you say that with a straight face? They’ll get better health care if they don’t have insurance and can’t get routine preventive care or see a doctor for treatment before becoming acutely ill, forcing them to go to the emergency room where the costs are far higher and, due to their inability to pay, will then be passed on as higher costs to all of us? That’s a serious argument? As ThinkProgress points out, the Heritage Foundation once was more sensible than this and strongly supported universal access to health insurance:
The claim may be a standard line for today’s Republicans, but it is a stark departure for DeMint and the think tank he now leads. In 1989, the Heritage Foundation was at the forefront of advocating for a requirement to purchase coverage through as system of regulated health care marketplaces, the very centerpiece of Obama’s health care reform, and later lobbied Congressional Republicans to offer the initiative as an alternative to President Bill Clinton’s health proposal.
More than a decade later, Heritage boosted former Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) health reform law and the individual mandate included in it, describing the requirement as “one that is clearly consistent with conservative values.” A Heritage health care analyst said Romney’s proposal would reform the state’s “uncompensated-care payment system,” force residents to take “personal responsibility” for their health care and prevent them from simply showing up “in emergency rooms.”
Indeed, DeMint himself backed the effort when he endorsed Romney for president in 2008.
“That’s something that I think we should do for the whole country,” DeMint told Fox News. “And the governor just looked at the numbers like a good businessman and realized that we could give people private insurance policies cheaper than we could provide free health care.”
To be fair, though, that was when the idea was being proposed by people who weren’t Democrats. Or black.