Hospitals are actually killing people, and that’s why Utah State Representative Michael S. Kennedy has fought so hard to keep Utah from expanding Medicaid. Kennedy, who is a practicing doctor, took the case of a patient suffering a rare reaction to pain medication as hard proof that better access to healthcare is bad.
According to Fox 13, Salt Lake City’s Fox affiliate, Kennedy said:
“Sometimes access to health care can be damaging and dangerous. And it’s a perspective for the [Legislative] body to consider is that, I’ve heard from National Institutes of Health and otherwise that we’re killing up to a million, a million and a half people every year in our hospitals. And it’s access to hospitals that’s killing those people.”
The discussion happened during a legislative session in which another doctor, Kyle Jones, was advocating for the Utah governor’s “Healthy Utah” plan, which would expand Medicaid across the state using federal money. Kennedy strongly opposes expanding Medicaid, and is now trying to scare people into thinking that accepting those federal dollars means more Utah residents will die from better access to healthcare, since hospitals are dangerous places.
That’s a specious argument at best, and a deranged one at worst. As a practicing physician, Kennedy ought to know better, but it appears his ideology is getting in the way of common sense. While there are risks associated with healthcare (such as reactions to medication, secondary infections, and more), they do not outweigh the risks of not even having that access to begin with.
Kennedy said in an article he co-wrote for Deseret News that expanding Medicaid in Utah would also direct resources away from the people who truly need them, like the disabled, the elderly, and low-income children. So what about the people who fall into the gap between affordable insurance coverage and current Medicaid limits? From the quote above, Kennedy appears to think they’re better off that way. After all, they can just go get jobs and then be able to afford regular insurance like everyone else.
Kennedy is a Republican (of course). Even so, a practicing physician really ought to think twice before telling people that access to healthcare can cause more harm than good.