First of all, let’s remember where the so-called Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) came from. It was invented by the right-wing Heritage Foundation.
That was then, this is now. These days, Heritage president and former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint is on a campaign to convince Republicans to shut down the government in order to defund the Affordable Care Act. According to DeMint:
“This might be that last off-ramp to stop Obamacare before it becomes more enmeshed in our culture.” The law “is not about getting better health care,” he continued. Uninsured Americans “will get better health care just going to the emergency room.”
This was a myth when George W. Bush said it, and it’s still a myth.
The so-called “free” care at emergency rooms is a result of The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act or (EMTALA), which requires hospitals that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding to treat patients for emergency medical conditions regardless of legal status or ability to pay. But EMTALA only applies to medical emergencies like heart attacks or serious injury. It does not offer any treatment for chronic conditions, leaving the millions of Americans with diabetes who need regular access to medication to stay alive, or asthma patients, or women diagnosed with breast cancer without access to care.
The right-wing keeps saying “just go to the emergency room,” and there is not enough push-back on that from the reality-based community.