On Thursday, there was a news report about Yovany Gonzalez, who was fired because his daughter Mackenzie needed to have expensive surgery. His employer, who provided his health coverage, didn’t want to pay for it. Mackenzie died. Cenk Uygur, host of the show “The Young Turks” on Current TV, invited Alan Grayson on the air to talk about it:
CENK UYGUR: Now, [there was] a guy who pointed out this problem. His name was Alan Grayson. Do you remember when Congressman Grayson from Florida gave this speech in the last Congress?
[VIDEO OF ALAN GRAYSON]: The Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick. The Democrats have a different plan. The Democrats say, “If you have health insurance, we’re going to make it better. If you don’t have health insurance, we’re going to provide it to you. If you can’t afford health insurance, then we will help you afford health insurance.” But the Republican plan is this: “Don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.“
CENK: Well, he took a lot of heat for that speech. But as you see stories like the Gonzalez story throughout the country, you wonder if he’d gotten it right all along. In fact, let’s bring in Alan Grayson right now — Former congressman from Florida, running again for Congress in Florida. Congressman, talk to us about the state of health care, this case, and what you make of it.
ALAN GRAYSON: Well, we still have 50 million Americans who can’t see a doctor when they are sick. And we have the Right Wing in total denial about the problem. After I gave that speech, they demanded an apology. Instead, I apologized to the dead, and gave the [Right Wing] a Harvard study that shows that 45,000 Americans die every year because they have no health coverage. If you take two people who are absolutely identical, physically identical — same age, same gender, same weight, same smoking habits — the one without health insurance is 40 percent more likely to die each year than the one with health insurance.
The Right Wing wants to ignore that. We set up a website that still exists, called NamesOfTheDead.com. We invited people who had lost people whom they loved, because they had no health coverage, to write in. It’s some of the most poignant stories you’ve ever heard in your entire life. The Right Wing wants to ignore it, wish it away, pretend it’s not happening. It’s just wrong.
CENK: You know what’s fascinating is the media coverage of this. If you point out people who have died [because they have no health insurance], they get mad at you and they say, “Oh, that’s uncivil,” right? But if you actually take away people’s insurance and they die, that they don’t mind. It seems like the media thinks, “OK, well that’s just life, and, you know, your family member died, and it’s a sad day for you.” But we [are considered] to be the impolite ones for pointing it out. Is there something wrong with our media?
ALAN GRAYSON: This has been going on now for years. The health insurance companies themselves have been doing it, for years now. For decades, they have had provisions, small print in their policies, that allowed them literally to pull the plug on you when you got too expensive for them. These lifetime caps. And that’s been a plague on us, and it’s killed many people.
I introduced a specific bill, H.R. 6000, called the “Thou Shall Not Kill Thy Customers Act,” to prevent them from doing that any longer. And in fact, Obamacare does prevent them from doing that. It ends lifetime caps, but the Republicans want to perpetuate that situation. It doesn’t matter whom you blame, whether it is the Right Wing or the media, it’s just wrong. We’ve known for 3,000 years now that a just society is one that shelters the homeless, that feeds the hungry, and that heals the sick.
CENK: So now Republicans are livid because one of Romney’s spokespeople pointed out that his health care plan, universal health care in Massachusetts, would have saved the life of the guy they feature in a Super PAC ad for Obama. And they say, “How dare you? How dare you save her life, and claim that your program would?” How is this Republican Party even in contention? How do they get people to say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I want a lifetime cap, so that if I get really sick, my insurance pulls the plug on me, or they pull the plug on my kids. Yeah, I want corporations to crush my soul.” And say, “Hey, you know what? My family member’s sick, who cares? Let ‘em die, because I want to save a buck.” How does a party this decrepit, this sick, this grotesque, even be in contention, and let alone the wins that they had in 2010?
ALAN GRAYSON: You’ve got me. I don’t know. I think they should be heading for an overwhelming loss, because the only thing that Mitt Romney cares about, the only thing that the Koch Brothers care about, the only thing that the insurance companies care about, is money. They take as much as they can from the rest of us, they give back as little as possible in return, and they call the difference “profit.”
CENK: Congressman Alan Grayson, running again in Florida. Thank you for joining us. We appreciate it. And I want to thank you for that speech you gave last time around, because you were absolutely right about it.
ALAN GRAYSON: Thank you.
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