Outspoken US conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh left hospital in Hawaii on Friday after a heart scare, and took a veiled swipe at President Barack Obama’s plans to reform health care.
Limbaugh, the multi-millionaire high priest of talk radio, who is a hugely influential figure in Republican politics, said doctors had found nothing wrong with his heart — despite severe chest pains he suffered on Wednesday.
“I have been treated to the best health care the world has to offer — that is right here in the United States,” Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh, 58, who has millions of faithful listeners, declined to take questions, saying he did not want to get into a political discussion in a hospital setting, despite his loaded comments about the health care system.
“I don’t think there is one thing wrong with the American health care system it is working just fine, just dandy,” he said.
Limbaugh, however, is quite wealthy and can afford the best health care money can buy, no matter where he is. Across the United States, some 46 million people are unable to afford health insurance which leaves visits to a doctor a luxury for most.
Limbaugh said last week that if President Obama’s proposed health insurance reforms were to pass, “people will die.”
Limbaugh said that a battery of tests including an angiogram had found “absolutely nothing wrong” with his heart and no arterial disease.
The controversial radio star, who in the past admitted an addiction to pain killers, broadcasts his hard-hitting show from Florida and had been on vacation in Hawaii when he was struck down.
Coincidentally, Limbaugh was in Hawaii at the same time as his biggest political target — Obama who is spending his Christmas and New Year vacation in his native state.
However, the state of Hawaii in the 1970s passed a package of health insurance reforms carrying requirements similar to the package recently passed by the U.S. Senate. Think Progress points to an October report in The New York Times that held up Hawaii as a model state for lawmakers debating health reforms. Hawaii mandates that employers purchase “relatively generous” health benefits for their full time workers.
“Hawaii’s health insurance premiums are nearly tied with North Dakota for the lowest in the country, and Medicare costs per beneficiary are the nation’s lowest,” the Times noted. Hawaii also has the lowest percentage of uninsured citizens among all 50 states and its residents have a longer life expectancy than Americans in the continental U.S.
A Harvard study published by the American Journal of Public Health revealed that over 45,000 Americans die each year for lack of health insurance.
Democratic strategists, who see Limbaugh as a divisive figure, often portray the talk radio king as the “leader” of the Republican Party.
Obama is pressing the Senate and the House of Representatives to quickly merge rival health care reform bills so that he can sign a historic reform bill into law within weeks.