LAS CRUCES I was originally not going to include Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh in the U.S. Senate election interviews we conducted recently on community radio, but my co-host, Peter Goodman, argued that if Walsh was on the ballot he needed to be invited.
Im glad he did, as Walsh provided my favorite moment of all the campaign interviews this year.
I asked him about the governments role in healthcare, and put it in the most basic terms I could think of.
I have no money. I have no insurance. I get in a car crash. What should happen?
Well, youre going to be broke, he said.
Im already broke. My question is, should they send an ambulance and take me to the hospital or should they let me bleed to death in the streets?
After a long pause, he replied, For one thing, youve been totally irresponsible for not having money and not having insurance.
There was no second thing. That was it. Maybe some good-hearted person will stop and help. Maybe not. I suspect the government would at least be allowed to drag me to the side of the road, so as to avoid a traffic hazard.
Of all the answers given by all the candidates this year in both the primary and general elections, that one might have been the most honest. Walsh could afford to be honest, given the impossibility of his potential victory.
Republicans cant afford to be that honest. And, to be clear, I dont believe they share Walshs view that emergency services should be reserved for those who can afford them. But on the issue of healthcare, they dont have a better answer than he does.
For the past 10 years, the GOP has been united in its opposition to the Affordable Care Act, but divided on what should replace it. Thats why former Sen. John McCain famously turned his thumb down on the final attempt by Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare. He knew, just like we all knew, that there was no replacement.
The ACA was passed with no Republican votes. Thats been a bitter pill that still hasnt been swallowed. They will keep chipping at it and fighting against it forever.
Its time for something new, using many of the principles of the ACA. Even Republicans now agree that those with pre-existing conditions should not be charged more for their health insurance. Their problem is how to pay for it.
Thats always been their problem. How does the free-market system provide basic human services for those without money?
I dont have the answer to that question. But Im certain the next healthcare plan that gets passed will be more inclusive, providing more services to more people, than the one that is in place now. And thats a good thing.
Republican leaders need to understand thats the goal, and figure out how they can contribute to getting there.
Walter Rubel is the former opinion page editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News. He lives in Las Cruces, and can be reached at:
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