The Friday Rush: The Health Care Grinch

Merry holiday! Rush Limbaugh doesn't want sick people to have access to affordable health insurance.


He tried to argue his way around it, sketch out flimsy analogies, and insist he was not “heartless.” But I'll say it again. Rush Limbaugh doesn't want sick people to have access to affordable health insurance, and by effect, quality health care.

Why? Because he claimed it would cause insurance premiums to “skyrocket” -- which is false in the context of the health care reform bill currently under consideration in the Senate.

The Congressional Budget Office ran the numbers on the Senate bill, which includes mandates for insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, and found that the bill would increase premiums only for individuals purchasing insurance on their own, and that those increases would largely be defrayed by the bill's other provisions.

On the subject of the pre-existing condition provisions, CBO says that "[b]y themselves," they would make insurance on the new exchanges more attractive to the “heavier users of medical care,” which would “tend to increase premiums in the exchanges relative to nongroup premiums under current law.”

But CBO goes on to say this would be “mitigated” by other components of the bill, including “substantial” subsidies for a “broad range of people.” In fact, here's a nifty chart based on this CBO report, drawn up by Nate Silver, illustrating this point:

Chart of health care costs

But I digress. Here I am trying really hard to point out nuanced, wonky truths to counter Limbaugh's untruths, when the simple fact is that Rush Limbaugh doesn't want sick people to have access to affordable health insurance.

So I want to take this time to give attention to the more ridiculous and Grinch-like arguments that Rush used to make his case (subscription required) against giving sick people access to affordable health insurance.

For example, Rush came up with this analogy that covering pre-existing conditions was like getting homeowners insurance when your house is already on fire:

LIMBAUGH: Now, I don't want to be misunderstood here because saying things like this can make people think that I, El Rushbo, am heartless. And of course this is the exact opposite. I have a huge heart. Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom. I am not dumping on people who have illnesses. Many of us have various illnesses and so forth. But what is being discussed here is not insurance. If using my “your house is on fire” example, if you were allowed to buy a rider to your homeowners insurance that covered fire only after your house fire had started, we're not talking insurance. You're not being insured because the risk has already happened.

But his analogy doesn't work. It would be more accurate to say that if you have a pre-existing condition and are unable to access affordable health insurance, it would be like if your house were on fire and you weren't allowed to call the fire department.

Rush also presented us with this straw man argument mocking what many Americans consider to be the moral justification for universal health care:

LIMBAUGH: And the reason [health insurance] differs [from homeowners insurance] is because health now is considered some God-given right that nobody should ever get sick, and if they do get sick, that they should never die, they should always get well.

People think that there is a “God-given right ... that they should never die” ? Now Limbaugh is just being startlingly disingenuous.

As Rush continued to point out various “mandates” in the bill, he sounded shocked about a provision that would mandate coverage of “women's issues,” such as spousal abuse and mammograms:

LIMBAUGH: There was a recent amendment that added mandating private insurers to provide mammogram and other women's issues coverage, including spousal abuse -- insurance for spousal abuse! ... You think of all the mandates that will be added onto private insurance, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Maybe I should just give up using reason. Rush just really doesn't want sick people to have access to affordable health insurance:

LIMBAUGH: Look at it this way, ladies and gentlemen. When you are covering known illnesses, you are no longer insuring against something, you are paying a monthly fee so others will cover your existing illness. You're no longer a risk; your illness is a reality. And this is not insurance. It's being called insurance but it's not. It's something entirely different.

Limbaugh also forwarded his usual series of falsehoods in the past week. From claiming that both Bush presidencies encapsulated a full "eight years of prosperity" to running with false rumors of dubious origin, Limbaugh continued his ongoing degradation of the national political discourse. Plus, he continued to cheerlead for GOP obstructionism in the Senate.

Limbaugh also kept his crusade against climate science at full tilt. His argument against the proposed "Cash for Caulkers" program, which would put people to work and increase nationwide energy efficiency, was that if there is global warming, then why do we need to make our homes efficient in retaining heat?

On Thursday, Rush took another swipe at those dastardly climate scientists plotting their one-world government takeover by way of an international climate change treaty:

LIMBAUGH: In the mix of all this talk about global warming and glaciers melting, these people are being blanketed with snow. ... All of a sudden God, with his sense of humor, gives us a blizzard on loan from him -- right in the middle of these wackos getting together for their little conference.

Personally, I encourage Limbaugh to spend more time pointlessly hyping cherry-picked, short-term weather patterns in relation to global warming. It's so foolish that it manages to further undermine his credibility, which is an impressive feat when you have a track record like his.