Affordable Care Act — August 1, 2015 at 11:25 am

How many American lives would Obamacare repeal put at risk? 19,000, says one study



The biggest sign of Obamacare’s success is Republicans rarely bother to complain about it anymore.

There’s the usual minor freakout about premium increases that upon a bit of investigation proves to be at least no worse than what we saw before Obamacare — and probably better if you shop around.

And news that California, which has excelled in implementing the law, is seeing premium increases less than half than what it experienced before the law is mostly ignored. Because who wants to hear that 68% who were uninsured in our largest state before Obamacare are now covered, and they’re more financially secure?

The law isn’t perfect — but it’s so obviously better than what we have before that only the Republican base is still considering repeal.

And even more importantly, it’s saving lives. How many lives?

In this excellent look at “Valuing Medicaid” upon its 50th anniversary, Harold Pollack, Bill Gardner and Tim Jost sneak this reminder in:

By one credible estimate, Massachusetts’s Romneycare insurance expansion prevented about one death per year for every 830 adults newly enrolled in health coverage. If these estimates carry over to the 16 million Americans newly-insured under the Affordable Care Act, health reform is now preventing about 19,000 deaths every year. That’s more than the annual lives saved by seat belts, frontal air bags, motorcycle helmets, child restraints, and minimum drinking age laws—put together.

Repealing Obamacare could be more dangerous for Americans than getting rid of all seat belts, frontal air bags, motorcycle helmets, child restraints, and minimum drinking age laws.

But Republicans don’t care if Obamacare saves lives — they never even accepted that people die for a lack of insurance. They said it couldn’t work, no one would pay and even it did they care would suck and destroy our economy. Instead, it’s worked, about 9 out 10 people pay and we’ve gotten the best job growth of the century.

But the care must suck because government! Also not true.

The Huffington Post‘s Jonathan Cohn looked at a recent paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association that attempted to compare care before and after the law:

Every trend had been getting worse — and then, with the health law’s full implementation, either stopped getting worse or started getting better. Lead author Benjamin Sommers, a Harvard economist and physician who used to work at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the difference amounted to 11 million more adults saying they can afford their health care and 6.8 million reporting they were in good health.

The shifts were most pronounced among racial and ethnic minorities, groups that were the most likely to have been uninsured before the law took effect, and larger in states that have expanded access to their Medicaid programs (which provides insurance to people with incomes below or just above the poverty line) than in states that have not. Taking all of that into account, the paper’s authors determined: “The ACA’s first 2 open enrollment periods were associated with significantly improved trends in self-reported coverage, access to primary care and medications, affordability, and health.”

Add this to steady accumulation of good news about the law — improved patient outcomes in hospitals; health care spending estimates coming in $2.6 trillion less than predicted before the law; the estimated solvency of Medicare being extended more than a decade since the ACA becoming law — and it doesn’t change Republicans minds. But it does force them to make arguments that are made up, overblown or demonstrably wrong.

Denying people health care is not just a side issue for the Republican Party. It motivates their crusade to repeal Obamacare, their unpopular desire to phase out traditional Medicare and their false, disgusting attacks on Planned Parenthood.

And we don’t need secret tapes to prove that Republicans have a maniacal desire to devalue and endanger American lives. Because they brag about it every day and get applause from fellow Republicans when they do.

[CC photo by Will O’Neill | Flickr]