The healthcare debate is again at a fever-pitch in the United States, as the Senate tries to pass its own version of a bill repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act. Yet one Republican Senator doesn’t appreciate his Democratic (and Independent) colleagues’ accusations that repealing Obamacare will result in unnecessary deaths.
The brief time when we were *not* accusing those we disagree with of murder was nice while it lasted. https://t.co/qr1rzon1cg
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) June 23, 2017
In the above tweet, Sen. Orrin Hatch writes of the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Steve Scalise as a “brief time when we were not accusing those we disagree with of murder,” calling it “nice while it lasted.” In his tweet, Hatch cited on from Sen. Bernie Sanders which said that “thousands of people will die” should GOP Obamacare repeal efforts be successful.
To suggest that this point is “accusing” people with whom Sanders disagrees with of murder is a bit of a stretch. (Especially when considering rhetoric the GOP employed about “death panels” that would order the euthanization of people’s grandparents in 2009.)
The Kaiser Family Foundation, a healthcare research and reporting service, have detailed how lack of coverage affected people before and after the implementation of Obamacare. Simply put, more people are covered under the ACA than were before it. To be fair, there is a legitimate debate to be had about the access to care that coverage provides. Nevertheless, KFF notes that being “without coverage can have serious health consequences for the uninsured because they receive less preventive care, and delayed care often results in more serious illness requiring advanced treatment.”
Sanders’s statement, that thousands of people will die if the ACA is repealed, may be a politically-charged statement, but it has far more foundation in the reality than the old “death panels” lie. Numerous studies, most famously a 2009 Harvard paper, argue that lack of coverage and care results in deaths. This is a confirmation of something that’s common-sense: if a person is sick and doesn’t seek treatment, the chances that the illness becomes fatal increases.
However, studies conducted since Obamacare went into effect have found that, at least for some groups, access to coverage and care lowered mortality rates. Studies done in 2012 and 2014 found that states who expanded access to Medicaid saw “significant” declines in mortality rates.
Another study from 2014 found that if the 25 states who didn’t expand access to Medicaid under Obamacare had done so, between 7,000 and 17,000 deaths may have been avoided. That same year a third study discovered a decline in mortality rates among young adults with cancer who were able to stay on their parents’ insurance because of the ACA. A similar study published in 2017 found a marked decline in mortality for all young adults able to stay on parents’ insurance from easily preventable illnesses.
Even authors of studies whose results appear to differ from the studies mentioned above concede that lack of healthcare coverage results in more preventable deaths, according to Politifact. They say that the exact numbers (specifically the 2009 study results, 45,000 deaths from lack of insurance) are up for debate, not the underlying concept.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.