Sen. Marco RubioEXPAND
Sen. Marco Rubio
Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Rubio Takes $2.5M From Health Industry, Misuses Dying Kid's Story to Slam Single-Payer

Nothing motivates your constituents quite like actively trying to kill them. Today left-leaning organizers across the nation are protesting at Senate and congressional offices, demanding that GOP lawmakers abandon plans to nuke Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and to replace them with the legal equivalent of paper clips and twine. Polls show that nobody likes the replacement plans except insurance executives and the ultrawealthy. The repeal campaigns have motivated left-leaning organizers to demand government-managed, single-payer health care, which works pretty dang well in every other developed country.

In response, the health-care industry has summoned U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, an anhedonic golem formed from wet, repurposed campaign-donation checks, to try to defend the industry from extinction. And he's doing so by using the story of a sick and dying kid in the grossest possible way.

Today Rubio logged onto Twitter to tell his constituents that he'll never, ever support "government-run" health care, a stance that should surprise nobody in light of the fact that Rubio has taken more than $2.5 million in combined donations from health care, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies since he first ran for Senate in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Nothing motivates quite like a few million bucks.

"Government run healthcare for all would be a disaster," Rubio tweeted, citing nothing. "I will never support the Sanders single payer plan." (Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has said he'll introduce a Medicare-for-all bill in the Senate sometime this year but has not yet done so.) Recent polling shows that most Americans support single-payer insurance — including Republicans, according to some surveys.

Rubio's statement was frustrating enough. But then he doubled down with a statement that ought to make all 27 million currently uninsured Americans' heads explode.

Protesters will picket outside Rubio's Doral office today. In response, Rubio cited the case of Charlie Gard, an 11-month-old British boy whose parents have been barred from bringing their son to the States by British courts and medical authorities because those groups argue prolonging Gard's life could cause him pain.

Gard's case has little to do with government-managed health care as a concept. Instead, it's largely just due to a single law, called the "Children Act of 1989," which gives British kids separate legal rights compared to their parents. That law says British courts must protect the "welfare of the child" ahead of a parents' wishes, which led to the court rulings on which international leaders, including Pope Francis and Donald Trump, have now seized.

But that didn't stop Rubio from blaming Gard's death on a single-payer system.

"Media should ask protesters across U.S. 2day why they support a system that leads to outcomes like this," he wrote. He then shared a willfully ignorant Chicago Tribune editorial that incorrectly blamed government-managed health care for outcomes like this, without once mentioning the actual provisions in British law that got the Gard family here, such as the Children Act. (Which some analysts even argue is working correctly in Gard's case because the law was designed, in part, to prevent ignorant parents from prolonging the suffering of terminally ill kids, but that's a separate debate altogether.)

But Rubio's argument is nothing short of insane: The entire point of pushing for a single-payer, government-managed system is that the vast majority of "outcomes" in government-run countries are far better and cheaper than those in the United States.

Rubio is just willfully ignoring this, in a way that's actually more exploitative than Trump's own Gard-related tweet earlier this week.

Of course, when analysts take a look at health "outcomes," they note that Americans pay astronomically more for coverage compared to every other developed nation. Single-payer critics, including whoever wrote that moronic Tribune editorial, facetiously mention that government care will cost taxpayers extra billions or trillions in costs, but conveniently neglect to compare that to what citizens currently pay in health-insurance premiums and inflated pharmaceutical costs.

Taken as a whole, "government-run" care is cheaper for taxpayers. And, of course, you don't end up with 27 million uninsured Americans, like we now have under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or 50 million uninsured people, as we'll end up stuck with if the House or Senate ACA-repeal plans end up passing.

The right also likes to complain about wait times for appointments in government-run systems such as Canada's, but American wait times for specialists' appointments are largely similar. In 2013, the Commonwealth Fund compared U.S. wait times to those in 13 other developed nations and found the U.S. did not have the shortest wait times in any category.

In fact, in a second analysis, 26 percent of Americans surveyed said that, when sick, they were forced to wait six days or more for a doctor's appointment, good for third-worst among 11 nations. Only 48 percent of Americans said they were able to get same-day or next-day appointments, worse than every country surveyed except Canada. Backers of America's current system like to brag that wait times for specialists' appointments in the U.S. are much lower than those in every other country, but that's also not true: Patients in Switzerland, which has a government-regulated private-insurance market like Japan and Germany, and the United Kingdom, which has a single-payer system, actually had shorter specialist wait times than the States.

And when it comes to the quality of care, repeated studies have universally ranked the U.S. worst in the developed world when it comes to taking care of people, which is what hospitals and doctors are supposed to do.

This gets to the heart of Rubio's argument: He's trying to use a sick baby to defend a system that has the worst infant mortality rate in the developed world, worse than Eastern European nations such as Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland. The U.S. is also the only developed nation where the maternal mortality rate is rising rather than falling. It would take a true moron to ignore those facts.

That or $2.5 million.

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