NPR logo Dead Ron Paul Aide Fit Uninsured Scenario From Tea Party Debate

Ron Paul

Dead Ron Paul Aide Fit Uninsured Scenario From Tea Party Debate

Rep. Ron Paul. Mike Carlson/AP hide caption

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Mike Carlson/AP

Rep. Ron Paul.

Mike Carlson/AP

A story getting much attention Wednesday is the tale carried by Gawker of Rep. Ron Paul's 2008 campaign manager who didn't have health insurance or much money when he died of pneumonia three years ago. Snyder's mother received a $400,000 hospital bill after her son's death.

What makes the story so powerful is that the plight of Kent Snyder, the former campaign manager, shared some similarities with the theoretical scenario put to Paul by moderator Wolf Blitzer at the CNN/Tea Party Express Republican presidential debate on Monday.

Blitzer asked Paul if society should just let an uninsured middle-aged man die? "That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks," Paul said, adding that churches could help.

Little did most of us know that it wasn't all an academic exercise for the congressman who was a practicing medical doctor before entering politics.

So Paul apparently is no fairweather libertarian. Snyder's predicament clearly didn't change the presidential candidate's mind about how the world should work.

Snyder's story had some key differences from Blitzer's scenario. Society didn't just let Snyder die. He received a significant amount of intensive care based on the bill.

But his mother didn't have the resources to pay the hospital. Few mothers would.

Instead, as Gawker reported, Snyder's friends started a website to raise money to pay the bill. Often in cases like this, hospitals are forced to pass along as much of the unreimbursed costs to other, insured patients or to eat those costs.

One of the ironies of Snyder's case is that the former aide appears to have been a remarkable moneyraiser for Paul. Gawker reports:

In the fourth quarter of that year (2008), Snyder raised a stunning $19.5 million for Paul — more than any other Republican candidate had raised at the time.