Novelist Kat Rosenfield has penned an essay at UnHerd pointing out that the American left, which has long claimed health care is a “human right,” has dropped that demand when it comes to those who are unvaccinated against the coronavirus.
Worse, she notes, many on the left have blamed the unvaccinated for the pandemic’s persistence, and have suggested that the unvaccinated should be denied medical care, treated after other patients, and be required to pay for their own expenses.
Rosenfield pointed out that the left had simply abandoned its long-held principle that health care is a human right, and that people should not be bankrupted because of it:
The notion of healthcare as a human right was fundamental to the 2009 debates over Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as to the identity of political progressives: they argued fervently, at the time, that nobody, no matter who they were, should be left destitute just because they got sick. And the idea that affordable care or coverage might be tied in any way to one’s lifestyle choices was particularly offensive: when conservatives complained that an ACA mandate providing free hormonal birth control was akin to prostitution, it caused a nationwide scandal. And when a Republican governor proposed levying a moderate additional charge against Medicaid recipients who were overweight or smoked, the idea was widely derided as “noodle-headed” by progressives.
Indeed, the idea that the Left would ever limit someone’s access to healthcare on moral or ideological grounds was considered laughable — a bogeyman invented by the Right in the form of a memorably hysterical panic about “death panels.” When Sarah Palin claimed that Obama’s healthcare bill would ration care only to those deemed “worthy” by government bureaucrats, the fact-checking site Politifact declared it the Lie of the Year, writing, “Palin’s statement sounds more like a science fiction movie (Soylent Green, anyone?) than part of an actual bill before Congress.”
Suffice to say, things have changed.
In all these cases, the notion of depriving vaccine holdouts of affordable treatment was met with widespread acclaim — in keeping with the idea, promoted by everyone from the paper of record to the current President, that the pandemic would’ve been over ages ago if only they’d sucked it up and gotten their shot. And yet the folks cheering on these measures are the very same people who, only a few short years ago, mocked accusations that they supported ideologically-driven triage, while also grieving the indignity and suffering that punitive healthcare policies would inflict on the most vulnerable among us.
Read Rosenfield’s full essay, titled “The Left would sacrifice the unvaccinated,” at UnHerd.
Rosenfield’s essay came hours after President Joe Biden issued a statement congratulating the vaccinated while warning the unvaccinated that they are “looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may still overwhelm.” Conservative pundit Ben Domenech, among others, mocked the White House statement: “We are all in this together unless you are in the outgroup in which case you gonna die.”
We are all in this together unless you are in the outgroup in which case you gonna die. pic.twitter.com/wGUJOaTMyk
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) December 20, 2021
Harvard economist Scott Kominers added a lengthy Twitter thread, explaining the problems with Biden’s statement as policy:
I know the decision not to get vaccinated is an active choice (for many — *not* for those with allergies or immune problems or similar).
And I'm all in favor of people internalizing externalities.
But I still think this type of messaging is really, really problematic…. pic.twitter.com/Pgz7pHVp3p
— Scott Kominers (@skominers) December 20, 2021
Not only did the language lack “compassion,” Kominers noted, but it was also unlikely to inspire people to take the vaccine.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
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