— Erin Burnett (@ErinBurnett) June 27, 2017
In a conversation with Erin Burnett of Out Front, Senator Paul (R-PA) landed in a weird spot on the subject of the GOP healthcare bill. First, he seemed on the verge of advocating for socialized medicine’s economic advantages before suddenly changing gears and declaring that socialism is a failure. Then he dropped a reference to forced labor camps instituted by Stalin. He didn’t quite compare universal healthcare to the gulag, but some outlets are interpreting it that way.
Here’s what happened. Paul acknowledged the “individual conundrum” of how to afford health insurance. A single individual or family’s buying power is small, but as part of a larger group, it’s easier for consumers to advocate for the coverage they want at an affordable price. But despite the power of groups to “leverage to demand,” Paul stopped short of advocating for the largest possible health insurance group — the American people.
At one point, Burnett inquired, “Why not go for the biggest group of all and just have insurance for everybody?” Paul’s response was to criticize socialism, especially the way it has played out in Venezuela. Burnett pressed on, pointing out that Paul “said ‘the bigger the group, the lower the cost,’ so all I’m taking is your argument to its logical conclusion.”
That’s when Paul brought up the Soviet Union, specifically the work camps Stalin created that killed over 83,000 people a year. “I was talking about voluntary groups,” he said. “Not the gulag.”
Of course, universal healthcare would be voluntary if enough Americans wanted to institute that system. And there is a big difference between affordable checkups, prescriptions, birth control, and emergency room visits and being forced to work fourteen hours or more in a remote location on a starvation diet without access to proper medical care. Yet a recent study led by two physicians predicted that almost 29,000 Americans would die each year if left uninsured by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.