Revived GOP Talking Lie: Emergency Rooms Take Care Of Uninsured

Between Bill O'Reilly in this clip, CSPAN callers (who I'm convinced are often paid to call and start spewing talking points), and our elected representatives, we are witnessing the Great Revival of the Emergency Room Lie. It goes like this:

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Between Bill O'Reilly in this clip, CSPAN callers (who I'm convinced are often paid to call and start spewing talking points), and our elected representatives, we are witnessing the Great Revival of the Emergency Room Lie.

It goes like this: Everyone has access to health care because emergency rooms have to treat people who walk through their doors. You can hear the expanded version in the video above, or tune into CSPAN between House votes on the replay of today's shenanigans to hear your 'everyday caller' talk about it. With citations to the law, even.

Ezra Klein would like us to remember young Diamonte Driver, the uninsured 12-year old who died from an abcessed tooth. He had access to emergency services.

In February 2007, Deamonte Driver died of an infected tooth. But he didn't really die of an infected tooth. He died because he didn't have consistent insurance. If he'd had an Aetna card, a dentist would've removed the tooth earlier, and the bacteria that filled the abscess would never have spread to his brain.

Deamonte Driver was 12. His insurance status wasn't his fault.

Because who thinks an abcessed tooth is something one can get treated in an emergency room, after all? Sure, Deamonte Driver had access to the emergency room. He even went to the emergency room, finally. He was there long enough to die.

Washington Post, 2007:

Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.

A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

If his mother had been insured.

If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find.

If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

By the time Deamonte's own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George's County boy died.

Deamonte's death and the ultimate cost of his care, which could total more than $250,000, underscore an often-overlooked concern in the debate over universal health coverage: dental care.

That's how that 'everyone gets care in an emergency room' thing works. No preventive. No basic services. You go when it's escalated to an emergency, when it costs a fortune for treatment and the chances of death or permanent disability are even higher.

Here's something else that happens. Hospitals that handle large numbers of the poor and indigent in their emergency rooms end up closing, because they lack the funding to keep treating patients when they are not being paid. Martin Luther King Hospital in LA closed about six months after Deamonte Driver died.

The most crucial closure was that of MLK’s emergency room, which shut its doors at 7 p.m. last Friday night. Plus, all of the facility’s inpatient care will be parceled out to other hospitals in the next 10 days, said Chernof. But an “urgent-care center” will operate in the hospital, he said — an on-site clinic that deals with non-emergency issues such as fever, rashes, burns, insect bites and fractures. And the medical center’s walk-in clinics — dealing with such specialties as HIV/AIDS, diabetes and infertility — will remain open.

It is now 2011, and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has been working to get Martin Luther King Medical Center re-opened.

Ridley-Thomas’ foremost achievement, say his aides, has been his effort to restore in-patient medical services at MLK. Over the past year, a new board of directors has been established at the hospital, which will be independently governed as a nonprofit enterprise. The board, Harris said, will be tasked with managing and operating the facility, while the county will contract its services.

“The other significant development related to the hospital in particular is that we have begun the process of building out the in-patient tower, the existing seismically compliant tower that is associated with the old hospital,” Harris said, adding that the top three floors of the six-floor building are a shell right now but the design stage is underway.

Additionally, the south public health center, adjacent to the campus, broke ground last year and is about 50 percent complete, Harris said. The building is currently being weatherproofed. Interior work will proceed in the next few months. Completion is expected by April, with the center operating by September.

[...]

County officials say they continue to receive cooperation from the state and while a possible repeal of the healthcare bill signed by President Barack Obama may have an impact on the county’s ability to have the hospital in full operation by spring 2013, they do not foresee it.

That last paragraph hints at the reason they've been able to move ahead with re-opening this hospital. First, because their public health center will receive substantial federal funds under the portion of the Affordable Care Act funding community health centers, thanks to Senator Bernie Sanders. Second, because they can develop a financial plan that actually delivers health care before it becomes an emergency, and that delivery will be paid for under the Affordable Care Act.

So much for the everyone gets care at emergency rooms nonsense, eh, BillO?

This recycled Republican talking lie (not a point, just a lie) points to what liars they are about the 'replace' part of their repeal campaign pledge. They don't want to replace anything. They think it's just fine for people to go without routine, basic health care and head over to the local ER when something might be life-threatening.

It all makes me sick, but I'm pretty certain Fox Fever is a pre-existing condition.

Update: Oh look. Here's the same lie in 2009, with Paul Broun mouthing the words.

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