Rep. Gingrey Laughs Off 14,000 Americans Losing Their Health Insurance Every Day

September 17, 2009 5:59 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Gingrey either doesn't grasp or is intentionally ignoring the fact that rising health care costs are often the reason for layoffs

Today, in a long speech on the House floor, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) laid out his case against health care reform.  On top of the usual talk about a "government takeover" and "socialized medicine," Gingrey stressed his belief that, in the midst of a recession, improving the nation's ailing health care system shouldn't be President Obama's top priority.  Gingrey acknowledged that 14,000 Americans are losing their health insurance every day, but literally laughed off the notion that this constitutes a health care crisis.  Rather, he said, "14,000 people are losing their health insurance every day NOT because of the cost of health insurance [laughs], they're losing it because they lost their job!"

Watch it:

However, Gingrey either doesn't grasp or is intentionally ignoring the fact that rising health care costs are often the reason for layoffs.  As Business Week reported in July:

In a first-of-its-kind study, the non-profit Rand Corp linked the rapid growth in U.S. health care costs to job losses and lower output. The study, published online by the journal Health Services Research, gives weight to President Barack Obama's dire warnings about the impact of rising costs if Congress does not enact health care reform. [...]

This study provides some of the first evidence that the rapid rise in health care costs has negative consequences for several U.S. industries," said Neeraj Sood, the study's lead author and a senior economist at RAND. "Industries where more workers receive employer-sponsored health insurance are hit the hardest by rising health care costs."

According to the New America Foundation, "Rising health care costs undermine the ability of U.S. firms to compete internationally" and "threaten the stability of American jobs." Moreover, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities stated, "The high rate of growth of health-care costs is at the root of the nation's long-term fiscal problem." As President Obama has repeatedly explained, fixing health care is now more important than ever precisely because of the recession. 

Of course, Dr. Gingrey has good reason to deny the severe problems in the current system.  In his political career, Gingrey has received over $1.8 million from the health sector, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.