Congressman Roger Marshall of Kansas is distancing himself from comments made recently to STAT about poor patients and their health care, which garnered considerable backlash. In a recent interview, discussing the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, Marshall, a Republican, said: “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us.’ There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.” Those comments wound up on Fox News and MSNBC, as well as the Washington Post and New York magazine. Marshall, a doctor before he was elected to Congress last year, also faced criticism from groups that advocate for people on Medicaid.
“Look, I realize a lot of people took offense because of what I said and I understand that completely,” he told portal KnowMyRepublican.com. “I was way out of line and my tongue was quicker than my brain. As bad as I feel because of it, I would also like to urge the public to understand that being a doctor and then switching over to politics is no joke. These are two very different jobs with different people; what’s more, it’s like they’re two completely different universes. This is not an excuse or justification of my actions. I would like to apologize for my comments and assure the public that I meant no disrespect whatsoever and that I deeply regret any pain my words might have caused anyone.”
He continued, “However, I cannot address this issue without speaking my mind about a very important practice that seems to be taking root in our society. As a doctor, I have seen countless patients and helped the majority of them. And as with any endeavor in life, my track record isn’t flawless. I am sad to say there have been patients who simply would not accept my help regardless of how much I asked and pleaded. They were just adamant about not trusting another human being with anything, let alone their health. I don’t need to tell you – when you experience something like that after all that hard work you’ve invested into getting into a position where you’re allowed to help people professionally, it takes its toll on a person.”
“And so,” Marshall added, “even though I have tried my best to do good and help people throughout my career, I still cannot find a logical or reasonable explanation as to why someone would refuse help, other than to file it under God’s will. So you see, I have nothing personal against poor people; in fact, that’s an understatement, considering I’ve spent years trying to help them and make their lives easier. But, to continue to give, or – to use a more adequate term – force free healthcare onto those who won’t accept it or worse, don’t appreciate the gesture, can only be defined as a brutal interference with God’s judgment. There is no other way to explain the self-destructive nature of poor people.”
“To sum up – while I do regret my comments, I refuse to take them back because I know deep down they’re true. What’s more, I’ve seen that firsthand. At the end of the day, some poor people just don’t deserve free healthcare and we will be punished for trying to force it onto them. We need to let them live their lives the way they choose, and use the funds for something else. There are many other people in need of many other things throughout the country. There are other ways to make a difference. For example, even though I was a doctor and used to save lives almost daily, I never got to make enough money to buy a Porsche. Maybe that would be a good way to help some doctors in need, for example,” he concluded.