Ron Paul on debate's health care moment
September 14th, 2011
12:23 PM ET
7 years ago

Ron Paul on debate's health care moment

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Ron Paul was at the center of one of the most memorable moments of Monday night's "CNN-Tea Party Republican Debate" when a member of the audience shouted "Yeah!" in response to a question asking whether a critically ill person without health insurance should be left to die.

In an interview Wednesday the Texas congressman, who was being asked the question when the outburst happened, responded to critics who said his response lacked compassion.

"You know, it's so overly simplified to explain a full philosophy on how you care for people in 30 or 60 seconds," Paul said Wednesday on CNN Newsroom.

Paul continued, "The freer the system, the better the health care. For somebody to turn around and say there's one individual who didn't have this care, you know, all of a sudden you hate people and you're going to let them die? I spent a lifetime in medicine. To turn that around like that is foolish."

Paul went on to say that of all the Republican presidential contenders, he was uniquely positioned to speak out on the government's role in providing medical care. Paul is a licensed medical doctor specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.

"I understand it differently," Paul said. "I want the maximum medical care and the maximum prosperity for everybody, and it doesn't come from the big government welfare and bankruptcies that we have now."

He continued, "Nobody can compete with me about compassion because I know and understand how free markets and sound money and a sensible foreign policy are the most compassionate systems ever known to mankind."

soundoff (450 Responses)
  1. Anomic Office Drone

    There is still no answer in there about what to do with the uninsured, otherwise healthy 30 year old who had a catastrophic accident.

    It's estimated that Brian Stowe's medical care could cost as much as $50 million. That's now, before "Obamacare", so if the free market is already this bad, is stripping away regulation really the answer?

    September 14, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  2. Sebastian Janssen

    Rudy in NYC wrote:
    He was asked a "Yes or No" question. "Would you let him die?" Someone in the audience spoke up quickly, "Yes!" Rep. Paul could have simply said, "No. I'm a doctor who has sworn the oath."


    Isn't that what he, in effect, said? (paraphrased) "No, I worked as a doctor and we never turned people away just because they couldn't afford it."

    Note that I (still) believe that more of my fellow men are charitable than not. That more doctors than not would be willing to aid those who have no one to aid them. But I think that making the default answer "the government will take care of those who need aid" creates an atmosphere where people pass the buck to that government. And then when it turns out that that government cannot provide proper aid, the typical answer is usually not "okay, then let's see what I can do" but "okay, then the government just needs to spend more money on the problem". And even if spending more money on a problem would actually work, we simply lack the funds to do so.

    September 14, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. Diz

    Well, it is part of the bigoted GOP ideology to assume that anyone without healthcare would naturally be a minority welfare recipient, illegal alien, or a reckless unchristian young their collective answer would be YES. Did anyone notice that Michelle Bachmann evaded the question entirely?

    September 14, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. Calv1n

    If people exam the 'philosophy' of the Tea Party movement they will see it is does not hold water. Michelle Bachmann is upset because parents shouldn't be expected to have the background to know whether or not a vaccination is safe for their children, yet we are all expected to be financially savvy enough to manage our own health care and retirement accounts in a sophisticated investment environment. Nonsense!

    The Tea Party believes they are winners and everyone else are losers, so nothing else matters. That is a grossly simplified view of life that is completely unrealistic. This country is not and has never been a meritocracy. Ask any politician named Bush, Kennedy, Rockefeller, Romney, Byrd, Taft, etc. and you might get a different answer, but winners do not win because they are 'better. More importantly, 'losers' do not lose because of a lack of personal fortitude. To think otherwise is childish and dangerous.

    If the Tea Party captures the White House this country will find out what hard times really look like, and every person in this country will be on their own when we should be working together on solutions for all of us.

    September 14, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  5. Ron Paul For POTUS

    The audience was applauding Dr. Paul's statement that " That's what freedom is all about". See the below quote from the debate.

    All of you who paint the tea party as wackos are just absolutely wrong. We care about our country, want to regain and retain our sovereignty from the bankers, and not bow to a one world govenment. We are the USA and we should be proud of where we came from and where we can go! However, the direction we are going now is nothing to be proud of. we need change we can believe in. And we can believe in Mr. Consistent, Dr. Ron Paul.

    Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a doctor, was asked a hypothetical question by CNN host Wolf Blitzer about how society should respond if a healthy 30-year-old man who decided against buying health insurance suddenly goes into a coma and requires intensive care for six months. Paul–a fierce limited-government advocate– said it shouldn't be the government's responsibility. "That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks," Paul said and was drowned out by audience applause as he added, "this whole idea that you have to prepare to take care of everybody …"

    September 14, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  6. Pedro

    He's had at least 5 chances to answer the question. But he still hasn't answered it. Should "the government," meaning us as a society, let him die if no one else is willing to pay his medical bills?

    He said the church should pay his bill. But what if he's not a member of a church? And even if he is, does he carry a church card for the hospital to call and authorize payment for his treatment? As far as I know, most churches are already strapped for cash, I don't see them picking up the bill for America's uninsured.

    His policy says he would let him die. Ron Paul just doesn't have the balls to admit that's what he and most conservatives stand for.

    September 14, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. MartiM, Texas

    If it is unconstitutional to require people to purchase insurance to help pay for the cost of their healthcare needs, then isn't it unconstitutional to require me to pay federal, state or local taxes to fund hospitals to provide healthcare to people who don't have insurance?

    September 14, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. Socalgal

    Major medical. Major medical. Major medical. Just like it was back in the 60's. Medical insurance was never meant to cover the sniffles. Those who had major medical were covered for major care events. Those that didn't self indemnified or negotiated payment plans with the doctors and hospitals. Get the government out of health care. Get the medical boards and oversight committees out from between doctor and patient. Individual responsibility must return to the market.

    September 14, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Jim

    This article had omitted some of the other comments that he made with regard to this question. Rep Paul explained that there are other solutions. The Federal Government is not the only person that can help a sick individual. They have family, church and other community organizations. And if all of that fails its better for local governments and organizations to take care of these specific needs rather than the Federal Government throwing money around hoping some if it will reach those in need.

    September 14, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. charlie

    Let me get this straight. If government does not provide healthcare than people will die. When did the government become flawless and able to take care of people? There are other options for taking care of people than the government. That is Ron Paul's argument. He believes there are better options. There was a time in the US when catholic hospitals, free clinics, the Shriner hospitals gave away care completely free. They still do just not the same extent. Even for profit hospitals do not turn people away and will often eat the costs of bills left under or unpaid.

    Why is there less charity hospitals to take up the slack? Why do hospitals look closer to the bottom line and just not take care of more uninsured people? The reason is government has killed the economy with debt, waste, and over-regulation. More regulations has made it harder for hospitals to operate. The country is poorer for politicians overspending. This is Ron Paul's point. If the government would stop wasting your money than people would have plenty of money to take care of each other without the government. I had a friend say will you trust people too much. So the alternative is you want to trust the government. Americans are very generous people. They just gave millions recently to MDS Telethon. If Americans had better jobs and more of their money in their pockets then they would have millions more to care for the uninsured.

    Ron Paul 2012. End the debt, End the Fed, Bring our Troops home, and Restore the economy for All.

    September 14, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. shanna

    I ❤ the good Dr. Ron Paul!

    September 14, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. GeorgeRobert

    Yes and No questions are for courts and we all know how that works. I'm not a total fan of ron Paul but if you stop and listen to some of what hes saying rather than interrupting and yelling before hes got the first 3 words out some of what he says makes sense. If you had listened monday night before the cat calls from audience interrupted him on this and the 9/11
    What he said was the gov should not help the guy who was foolish not to buy insurance(assumption was he could afford but just didn't get any). He went on to give examples of how things used to work when community ,churchs and other charitable organizations would help the needy and people who were sick. He just said the gov shouldn't be paying for it.
    If I was dieing and happened to cross paths from Ron Paul and there was something he could do I feel real confident he
    would help me and stay true to his oath. If the Left wingers and the idiot tea party folks would just think(if they can get whats left of their brains working) and quit shooting from the hip then we might get something done.. Its time the silent majority stop being silent and quelch all the extreme left and right or dump them all on an island somewhere and let them fight to the end so the rest of us sensible people can get on with doing something positive.

    September 14, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  13. Deephaven

    After seeing that interchange with Ron Paul, I'm convinced than ever that we are heading into a dark age. Just because you're a physician doesn't mean you're benevolent or have compassion. There have been many evil physicians throughout history.

    September 14, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. Dan J

    That 30 year old is more likely to die under Obama's health care plan than anything the republicans are proposing.

    September 14, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Ryan

    @Rudy NYC, HE DID SAY NO! Did you even listen to it? Jeez. This is why America is getting dumber... WE DON'T LISTEN!


    “Congressman, are you saying society should let him die?”

    “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,” said Paul to additional applause. “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. This whole idea, that’s the reason the cost is so high. The cost is so high because they dump it on the government, it becomes a bureaucracy,” he added.

    September 14, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  16. Indignant3

    I am neither a democrant or a republican, I am an independent, but I totally agree with the Ron Paul's stance that everyone should take control of one's own life. If you decide to drive without a seatbelt, it's your risk, if you decide not to buy a health insurance, it's your risk. I do not want to pay out of my taces for the stupid risks you take. If you are in ER with no health insurance, call your family, your friends, your church to get the money and the first thing you so when you get out of the hospital – you pay your debt to them and you buy a health insurance. End of story.

    September 14, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  17. Let's get rational now

    What was so disturbing is the total lack of response by any of the republican presidential candidates to that outburst. I as an independent voter was looking for an immediate, strong condemnation of the outburst by each candidate. Instead all I heard was deafening silence. Why? Where they too afraid to alienate the tea party crowd? If so, then these candidates either agree with the offensive remarks or have no spine to condemn them in public. Either way for me as an independent voter this was a defining moment for each of these candidates. They lost my vote. The sad thing is I am not that thrilled about Obama so I was willing to be swayed.

    September 14, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. onemanisamajority

    Well, CNN and Mr Blitzer lied to us again. Equal time? Only if you are Perry or Romney. Limiting responses and ignoring Dr Paul on the Fed question was a blatant attempt to marginalize his well-deserved position as the leader on this very same issue. Your piece here also leaves out, rather conveniently, the preface to the question that stated the individual had the opportunity to purchase insurance and opted not to, thus placing the burden on the rest of society. This just proves once again that you can’t fix stupidity, just live with it.

    September 14, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. Dan J

    Rudy NYC

    "You know, it's so overly simplified to explain a full philosophy on how you care for people in 30 or 60 seconds," Paul said Wednesday on CNN Newsroom.
    He was asked a "Yes or No" question. "Would you let him die?" Someone in the audience spoke up quickly, "Yes!" Rep. Paul could have simply said, "No. I'm a doctor who has sworn the oath."

    Umm Rudy, his initial response was: "No, of course not," He just couldn't elaborate on that in 60 seconds, and who could? Not Obama.

    September 14, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |

    Don't forget the teabagger screams of delight when the death penalty question came up. Rick Bush killed an innocent man on his Texas death penalty treadmill. His own wingnuts keep talking about it to take him down.

    September 14, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. HT

    Not that I'm a Ron Paul advocate, but Dr.W sounds like he's assuming Paul is a typical republican when he's a very different kind of politician. Not that he's good kind of different when I find that he has good ideas and bad ones at the same time.

    Anyways, we have to be wary that if we are to say that health care should be a human right, we're dealing with an industry supported by real people, who probably have real families, and they probably have real needs like food, water, shelter, clothing, and all that. Besides, profit-oriented businesses can only work if there are people tossing their money for what those businesses provide. If people want a more people-oriented society, let's see how communist countries worked out! Wait... they didn't. They took away the very incentives that drove businesses to create wealth for, so all they could do is force people to create wealth spread it around. People COULD be more people-oriented, but there's a line drawn for everyone where their needs are put first before others.

    I'll agree that the economic darwinism that Ron Paul advocates sounds worrying though. However, to sum up that world view in a positive way, a free society punishes failure, and rewards those who give what people want. I believe there's more to a right-winged world view than people on the left might realize.

    September 14, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. Ryan

    His position is that he has faith in the American PEOPLE, including businesses and institutions like the hospitals, churches and charities to be philanthropic take care of each other out of the goodness of our hearts. NOT the goodness of government's heart. It was quoted by a great patriot, "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." – Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

    September 14, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  23. Kent

    Paul's statement: the freer the healthcare the better the system is either obviously false or he is being ambiguous about the word "free(r)". The best healthcare system is one that is actually available for people to use and provides good quality outcomes for a reasonable cost, that is the only objective measurement. By that standard, the US is extremely low compared to other Western democracies. By Paul's Libertarian standards, the US system is "freer" than those systems, yet we have much lower access to healthcare, comparable outcomes and pay twice as much. He's just flat wrong.

    September 14, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  24. Steve

    What he did say was tha, in his persoanl experience as a doctor before medicare, they would receive treatment.

    He said Medicare as currently implemented, is a facotr in the high costs of Medical care int he US.

    Note, in other countries, the health care costs are less expensive (in France, 1/2), and the mean quality of care higher as measured in practicial terms.

    September 14, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. Seattle Sue

    Jeff@12:47==Your parents had better sense than you and should not have listened to you.

    September 14, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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