Brit Hume's Strange and Heartless Prescription for Health Care

Update (July 25): Apologies to Brit Hume. Ken Kurson emailed me that what I quoted from Politicer may be a hoax, and that possibly Hume did not make the comments I attributed to him. I checked. First, that site was quoting from this site. I first cited The Daily Caller, which posted this,I found that portions were true. Here is the discussion as it appeared on Fox News, from another website. Watch the video.

So some of it was right. My mistake, unless politicot.com (not politico.com) got it from portions edited out, is that there are additional statements I used that WERE NOT in the video. So, it appears that may indeed have been made up; that they added paragraphs to what Hume actually said.

The strange thing is that they extrapolate from Hume's own words. Secondly, most of the comments on PJ Media defend what Hume supposedly said, and only a few criticize them. So if it was satire, it was indeed satire that worked, since obviously, many self-proclaimed conservatives think there is nothing wrong with what Hume supposedly said.

So far, I cannot find any corrections or statement from Hume itself on whether or not he said what politicot.com stated. At any rate, the major paragraph I highlighted and said was from Hume may indeed have been made up. So again, I apologize for posting that. It sounds like a logical conclusion from his earlier statements on the video, exaggerated to some length, however.

Hopefully, some site or Fox News will clarify whether or not Hume said this in an extended discussion that was edited out of what was broadcast. If that paragraph was never said by Hume, they should make that clear also.

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For years now, conservative policy wonks have been working on sound alternatives to ObamaCare. Just look up the writings of James Capretta,  Avik Roy, and others. They have expended a great deal of time and energy on formulating market-based plans that would give sound health protection to the people of our country.

As Henry Olsen informs us in his important new book, The Working-Class Republican, Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism, Reagan

…would have wanted to ensure that people would not lose coverage that they had received as a result of Obamacare’s exchanges and the Medicaid expansion. His consistent belief was that it was OK for government to pay for needed medical care for those who could not afford it makes that plain. The details as to who should be covered, how much the government should pay, and what level of care they would be guaranteed would be up for discussion, but I can’t imagine that Reagan would be more concerned about money than about life.

Olsen points out that Reagan himself said: “As one conservative let me say any person in the United States who requires medical attention and cannot provide for himself should have it provided for him.”

Now, Brit Hume of Fox News has come along with quite a different standard for who should receive health insurance and who should not.  Evidently, Mr. Hume is not satisfied with what seems to be the single most popular part of Obamacare -- the provision that one cannot be denied insurance for a previously existing condition.

Mr. Hume’s position, as related in The Daily Caller  and Politicer, is that “coverage for pre-existing conditions defeats the whole idea of insurance.”  Hume makes the comparison with auto insurance, which one purchases to guarantee against risks and is not bought after one is in a crash. If a person was able to do that after hitting another car, and then had everything covered, it would be the equivalent of the pre-existing rule in Obamacare.  Hume fails to note that getting auto insurance is mandatory in most states and something the current Republican plans want to eliminate in health insurance.

As Hume sees it, Obamacare’s preexisting provision hurts the country at large by causing larger deficits. It is also a plan “designed to help the poorest and sickest” and to make health care available to everyone. For Hume, these goals violate the ethical values embedded in the Constitution:

Spend your life working hard, playing hard and not burdening others with your problems. Make yourself capable of anything and all shall be given to you. That means that every American’s basic responsibility is to take care of themselves first, which is to say, make sure they don’t get sick and fall into the care of others. If that happens, you’ve pretty much lost the right to call yourself an American, as cruel as that sounds.

This is an amazing statement. Does Hume really believe that a person won’t fall ill if he or she lives up to these standards? I know someone who got lung cancer and never ever smoked a cigarette. Others have suddenly found that they have developed a condition, let us say a serious cancer, that needs expensive treatment. One person might be on the verge of moving to a new job, which includes a promotion and higher income. Should that individual be deprived of taking the better job because, in Hume’s view, he should no longer be able to get health insurance?  Does that person, as Hume argues, lose the right to call himself or herself an American simply because he is now sick?

Hume concludes that “giving free health insurance to sick people and those with pre-existing conditions pretty much defeats the core ethic principle of this great country,” which is to “carry your own weight and take care of yourself.” Certainly, the health industry should focus on working with people to get them to engage in healthy activities and to take care of themselves so that they  minimize their chances of becoming ill. The author of the famous South Beach Diet, Dr. Arthur Agatston, writes that the first time he sees a new patient, he tells him that the best line of defense to prevent a heart attack is to change his bad eating habits. He does not tell the patient that he can’t see him because he hasn’t done that yet -- and therefore shouldn’t have health insurance. Agatston's whole emphasis at his own practice is on preventive care. But even those who follow his program might for other reasons develop a heart condition. Should they not be allowed to have health insurance when suddenly they are not in perfect health?

Yet Hume says that if you are “poor and get sick, it’s your own fault.” Read those words again. This is the kind of social Darwinism that liberals and leftists always accuse conservatives of believing. He says, “Nobody made you sick out of nowhere….you did that to yourself by not taking care of your health.” Under that standard, the coal miner who got black lung disease from working in the mines, but could find a different and better job in town as a car salesman, has to forfeit health insurance and the ability to pay for treatment if he changes jobs. Is it really the former miner's fault? Hume’s rule is: “Sorry-- but you no longer can get health insurance. You had a job that made you sick. Tough luck.” It must be great to be Brit Hume and believe you have so much control.

Hume’s heartless and ill-thought-out comments are almost a parody of what many people think conservatives believe (e.g., they don’t care for people, only the rich deserve health care and health insurance, and if the poor or middle-class person can’t pay for treatment on her own, she deserves her fate).

Next Christmas, I suggest an Ebenezer  Scrooge award for Brit Hume.