Stupid things politicians say

It’s hard to know where to begin. There have been so many idiotic things put forward by arch conservatives hell-bent on “getting government out of our lives” even if it means leaving millions of people without health insurance. Here are just ten of the stupidest things politicians have said about healthcare recently:


1. Proving they are woefully out of touch

Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Freedom Caucus member, responded to concerns about the rollbacks of Obamacare at a 05/06/17 town hall in Lewiston, Idaho shortly after the House passed the amended AHCA bill. A constituent told him, “You are mandating people on Medicaid accept dying…You are making a mandate that will kill people.” He replied,

“Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care”

Sorry, that is just not true, Raul. A 2009 Harvard study found that, prior to Obamacare, some 45,000 Americans died annually due to their lack of health insurance. Since the CBO estimated that 24 million people would lose health insurance over the next 10 years as a result of the ACHA’s rollback Obamacare protections, it does appear that people will die if they don’t have access to healthcare.


2. Proving they don’t have a heart

This one is not just stupid, it is also mean. In response to Jimmy Kimmel’s emotional story about his son’s congenital heart condition, former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh tweeted the following:

Joe Walsh Kimmel quote 638 x 336

Needless to say, twitter jumped on this big time, pointing out in tweet after tweet, that although he doesn’t want to pay for someone else’s healthcare, he might want to pay the $117,000 in child support that he owes to provide for his own children.


3. Proving you can always invoke Jesus

When all else fails, be sure to bring Jesus into the story. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) is also a doctor so that, of course, makes him an expert on healthcare. In an interview published in STAT, he said,

“Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us…There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves’.”

Then he doubled down by playing “you know, those people don’t take care of themselves and then they expect us to pay the card”:

“The Medicaid population, which is [on] a free credit card, as a group, do probably the least preventive medicine and taking care of themselves and eating healthy and exercising. And I’m not judging, I’m just saying socially that’s where they are. So there’s a group of people that even with unlimited access to health care are only going to use the emergency room when their arm is chopped off or when their pneumonia is so bad they get brought [into] the ER.”

What’s Jesus got to do with any of this blather?


4. Proving they don’t know how health insurance works

I love the absolute ignorance about how health insurance works displayed in a story reported in the Huffington Post.

During a “Repeal and Replace” hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla) was asked to explain his statement that

premiums were “skyrocketing” in his state ‘because of the mandates from Obamacare.'”

“What mandate in the Obamacare bill does he take issue with?” Doyle asked. “Certainly not with pre-existing conditions, or caps on benefits or letting your child stay on the policy until 26, so I’m curious what is it we’re mandating?”

“What about men having to purchase prenatal care?,” Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill) replied. “Is that not correct? And should they?”

Yes, John, that is how health insurance works. As World Finance explains in its online treatise on the Basic Concepts of Insurance:

“Insurance is an economic institution that allows the transfer of financial risk from an individual to a pooled group of risks by means of a two-party contract.”

That means that people participating in insurance pool their money and their risks. What you are talking about, John, is not insurance—unless you want to be in a men’s only pool. But what the heck, if you only want to pay for what you might actually use, then, why not forgo insurance altogether and just pay out-of-pocket on an as-you-need-it basis? I’ll bet that even you know the answer to that question.

Oh, and by the way, I can’t move on without pointing out the obvious: Every woman who needs prenatal care had a guy involved somewhere along the line…virgin births really don’t happen in the real world…how about a little personal responsibility John?


5. Proving they know nothing about health, let alone health insurance

As reported by The Blaze, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Ala) said that people who keep their bodies healthy should pay less than those who get sick. Here’s the actual quote:

“My understanding is that it [the AHCA] will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool that helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the costs to those people who lead good lives—they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy…Right now, those are the people [that] have done things the right way that are seeing their costs skyrocket.”

Hey, I am a big fan of prevention and doing the right things to keep our bodies healthy. But, as a former emergency physician, I can tell you from first-hand experience that sometimes bad things happen to those people who lead good lives. They crash their cars, they have inherited diseases, they get cancer—even though they did all the right stuff. You just never know…which is why God invented insurance.


6. Proving that no matter how big your job is, you can still say incredibly dumb things

This one slays me not just because of who said it, but also where he said it. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s Director of the Office of Budget and Management, while speaking to a roomful of healthcare luminaries at Stanford University about how the AHCA would take care of people with pre-existing conditions said this:

“It doesn’t mean we should be required to take care of the person who sits home, drinks sugary drinks, doesn’t exercise, eats poorly, and gets diabetes.”

Needless to say, the good folks at the American Diabetes Association took exception to his remark responding:

“Mr. Mulvaney’s comments perpetuate the stigma that one chooses to have diabetes based on his/her lifestyle. We are also deeply troubled by his assertion that access to health care should be rationed or denied to anyone.”

Of course, this is the same guy who just said this to justify Trump’s draconian budget proposal:

Mulvaney quote about proposed budget
Screenshot from CNBC accessed 5/23/17

He went on to say “you have to have compassion for folks who are receiving the federal funds, but also you have to have compassion for folks who are paying it.” Oh, yeah, let’s give it up for the billionaires.


8. Proving that being prepared really doesn’t matter in this congress

Just hours before the House voted on the revised version of the AHCA, a bill that will affect the lives of millions of Americans, Congressman Tom Garrett (R Va) said this on MSNBC:

“Oh, gosh…Well, let’s put it this way: People in my office have read all the parts of the bill. I don’t think any individual has read the whole bill. That’s why we have staff.”

But, Representative Brian Mast one-ups him—see Stupid Thing #9


9. Proving even congressmen can respond just like a 5-year old

Stupid things politicians say


10. Proving that you can live (or lie) in a fantasy world

At the Rose Garden party to celebrate the Republicans cramming the AHCA down the throats of the House, President Trump has this to say about the mostly men gloating behind him,

“What a great group of people, and they’re not even doing it for the party, they’re doing it for the country. Yes, premiums will be coming down, deductibles will be coming down.”

Well, Mr. Trump, if any version of the AHCA eventually passes and gets signed into law, and if you are still President, we will all have a chance to see if your dreams really do come true.

Listen to Patricia Salber talk to Ethan Bearman about her top two worst things politicians said recently.

Patricia Salber MD, MBA (@docweighsin)

Patricia Salber, MD, MBA is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Doctor Weighs In. Founded in 2005 as a single-author blog, it has evolved into a multiauthored, multi-media health news site with a global audience. She has been honored by LinkedIn as one of ten Top Voices in Healthcare in both 2017 and 2018.

Dr. Salber attended the University of California San Francisco for medical school, internal medicine residency, and endocrine fellowship. She also completed a Pew Fellowship in Health Policy at the affiliated Institute for Health Policy Studies. She earned an MBA with a health focus at the University of California Irvine.

She joined Kaiser Permanente (KP)where she practiced emergency medicine as a board-certified internist and emergency physician before moving into administration. She served as the first Physician Director for National Accounts at the Permanente Federation. She also served as the lead on a dedicated Kaiser Permanente-General Motors team to help GM with its managed care strategy. After leaving KP, she worked as a physician executive including serving as EVP and Chief Medical Officer at Universal American.

She has served as a consultant or advisor to a wide variety of organizations including digital start-ups such as CliniOps, My Safety Nest, Doctor Base. She currently consults with Duty First Consulting as well as Faegre, Drinker, Biddle and Reath, LLP.

Pat serves on the Board of Trustees of MedShare, a global humanitarian organization. She is also Chair of MedShare's Western Regional Council.


    • That’s how Obama’s plan was passed, that and the Nuclear Option. And I don’t seem to recall being a billionaire, but I do recall paying taxes that help fund Medicaid.


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