I want to dwell for another moment on Representative Phil Jensen’s (R-33/Rapid City) anti-social comment at Tuesday’s Rapid City school board meeting. SDPB’s Arielle Zionts reported via Twitter that Jensen said we aren’t responsible for anyone’s health but our own:
We aren’t responsible for others’ health. Hmm… so to what logical conclusions must that claim lead Representative Jensen and others who maintain such individual separatism?
Representative Jensen certainly must oppose Medicaid, as we have no responsibility to help our low-income neighbors access health care. Yet even when he has spoken publicly against expanding Medicaid, he has expressed concern for others’ health:
At the crackerbarrel, state Sen. Phil Jensen was blunt about the money for expanding Medicaid: “The state has no more money, and the (federal) government is broke.”
“We all care about the poor” and their need for health care, Jensen said, but he added that he sees their plight as “an opportunity for faith-based entities to step forward” and offer help [Jim Stasiowski, “Lawmakers: State Has No Money for Medicaid Expansion,” Rapid City Journal, 2015.02.21].
Why would faith-based organizations help the poor with health care costs if they have no responsibility for others’ health?
Rep. Jensen must similarly oppose Medicare, as we have no responsibility to help elderly folks get health care. Where do we get off taking money from younger people to keep older people healthy?
Rep. Jensen must oppose any government action to protect the health of citizens, yet just last Session, he co-sponsored and voted for 2021 House Bill 1130, which requires that doctors give certain female patients even more information to protect their health. He co-sponsored and voted for 2021 HB 1051, which assumes a profound state responsibility for the health of certain fetuses. He co-spsonored and voted for Senate Bill 83, which directs the Department of Health to disseminate information about perinatal hospice services, as if the state has any responsibility to promote the physical and emotional health of families who lose babies. He supported House Concurrent Resolution 6008, which reauthorized the Mental Health Services Delivery Task Force, as if the Legislature has any responsibility to ensure that people have access to mental health care.
Representative Jensen’s public statements and Legislative record make clear that he doesn’t really believe that individuals aren’t responsible for anyone’s health but our own. He’s just invoking declarations of convenience, saying things that sound good in the moment and justify his and his supporters’ sense that the only freedom that matters is their own.