When he was gainfully employed, Luis Lang refused to buy private insurance and refused to sign up for Obamacare. Now he's going blind, and it's all our fault:
Lang, a 49-year-old resident of Fort Mill, S.C., has bleeding in his eyes and a partially detached retina caused by diabetes.
“He will lose his eyesight if he doesn’t get care. He will go blind,” said Dr. Malcolm Edwards, the Lancaster, S.C., ophthalmologist who examined Lang.
Lang is a self-employed handyman who works with banks and the federal government on maintaining foreclosed properties. He has done well enough that his wife, Mary, hasn’t had to work....
But he has never bought insurance. Instead, he says, he prided himself on paying his own medical bills.
...[He's] suffered several mini-strokes. He ran up $9,000 in bills and exhausted his savings. Meanwhile, his vision worsened and he can’t work, he says.
That’s when he turned to the Affordable Care Act exchange. Lang learned two things: First, 2015 enrollment had closed earlier that month. And second, because his income has dried up, he earns too little to get a federal subsidy to buy a private policy.
Lang, a Republican, says he knew the act required him to get coverage but he chose not to do so. But he thought help would be available in an emergency. He and his wife blame President Obama and Congressional Democrats for passing a complex and flawed bill.
As Josh Marshall notes:
Since Lang now has no income, he should be eligible for the ACA's expanded Medicaid coverage, for which the federal government picks up tab. But Lang lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina. And South Carolina refused to accept Medicaid expansion. So he's out of luck on that front too.
We've met Luis Lang before -- but when we last met him, he didn't have a name. Luis Lang, you see, is the real-life version of the hypothetical uninsured individual Ron Paul was asked about in a 2011 Republican presidential debate. As you'll recall, Paul said the hypothetical man should just "assume responsibility for himself," because "That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks." And the crowd cheered.
WOLF BLITZER: Thank you, Governor. Before I get to Michele Bachmann, I want to just -- you’re a physician, Ron Paul, so you’re a doctor. You know something about this subject. Let me ask you this hypothetical question.
A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it.
Who’s going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?
PAUL: Well, in a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him.
BLITZER: Well, what do you want?
PAUL: But what he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major medical policy, but not be forced --
BLITZER: But he doesn’t have that. He doesn’t have it, and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?
PAUL: That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody --
Paul went on to talk about two possible options for his hypothetical patient: charity on the medical community's part and charity from the churches:
BLITZER: But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?
PAUL: No. I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid, in the early 1960s, when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals.
PAUL: And we’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it.
There's your answer, folks. Obamacare was designed to make it unnecessary for Americans to have to beg for medical care -- yes, there's a price to pay if you don't obtain coverage during the enrollment period, but Lang should be able to obtain coverage through the expansion of Medicaid now that he can't work. Unfortunately for him, his party doesn't want him to be able to do that in his state.
Since conservatives have made Obamacare more porous than it was intended to be in South Carolina, we should be looking at the remedy conservatives recommend in this situation. You guys reshaped the health care landscape to the extent you could, and you guys encouraged people like Lang to be Obamacare refuseniks -- so you solve his problems. Churches should take up a collection for him. Doctors and hospitals should treat him and not expect payment. That's the system you think is better. So show us it's better.
And then repeat as necessary for all the Luis Langs who can't get the press to write about them.
Or back the hell off and let Obamacare do its work.
Crossposted from No More Mister Nice Blog