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GOP Sen. McConnell’s childhood Polio therapy paid for by charity

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had polio as a child, and benefited in his recovery from the charity of the others.

This is an interesting fact, as Vice President Pence recently claimed that people ought to take “personal responsibility” for their own illnesses.

In a 1990 political ad, McConnell mentioned his polio, and that the disease nearly bankrupted his parents when he was a child.

And while some have claimed that the government paid for McConnell’s treatment, in fact it was a private charity established by Franklin Roosevelt, the nascent March of Dimes.

From Snopes:

In his 2016 memoir The Long Game, McConnell recounted how he was struck with polio at the age of two while staying with his mother in his aunt’s home in Five Points, Alabama.

It’s one of my life’s great fortunes that Sister’s home was only about sixty miles from Warm Springs, Georgia, where President Franklin D. Roosevelt had established a polio treatment center and where he’d often travel to find relief from the polio that paralyzed him at the age of thirty-nine.

My mother took me there every chance she had. The nurses would teach her how to perform exercises meant to rehabilitate my leg while also emphasizing her need to make me believe I could walk, even though I wasn’t allowed to.

So it’s clear that Mitch McConnell did indeed receive significant help — primarily in the form of physical therapy and physical therapy training for his mother — from the polio rehabilitation center established by Roosevelt at Warm Springs, Georgia.

The point? Mitch McConnell benefited from the charity of others when he had a debilitating illness his family couldn’t afford.

This is particularly relevant as Vice President Mike Pence recently suggested that people with pre-existing conditions should exercise more “personal responsibility” when dealing with their illnesses.

Pence personal responsibility

Under Pence’s logic, did the McConnell family abdicate their personal responsibility because they realized they needed help providing for the medical care of their child?

McConnell’s experience is familiar to all of us. Health care in America costs too much money. You can’t survive without assistance. For most of us, that assistance comes in the form of affordable health insurance that provides sufficient benefits to keep us alive.

When Mitch McConnell was in trouble, his family wasn’t left to fend for themselves. Why should anyone else’s be?

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John Aravosis
Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children’s Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O’Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. John’s article archive.

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