Saturday, May 10, 2014

Death Panels, Quantified

In all of the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments on the part of Republicans during the fight to pass The Affordable Care Act, the "Obamacare means grandma's gonna get done in by a DEATH PANEL" argle-bargle may be the one that pissed me off the most. Because real people were really already dying due to lack of insurance coverage and access to affordable health care. Conservatives were all too willing to discount these actual lost lives (not to mention the people bankrupted by medical costs and/or forced to live with chronic pain and illness) while claiming to be heroes who would save us all from some imaginary death panels of their fevered imaginations.

Well, now we have some good numbers on just how many lives Obamacare is projective to save every year, and how many deaths Republican governors and state legislators who refuse to expand Medicaid and make implementation of the ACA as onerous as possible will have on their hands:
One thing is for sure. If anything close to these results apply, the ACA is saving many lives every year. The new law is projected to cover more than 20 million adults who would otherwise go uninsured. The Massachusetts estimates imply that the ACA will prevent something in the neighborhood of 24,096 deaths every year (simply: 20 million divided by 830). That’s more than twice the number of Americans killed in gun homicides. It’s considerably more than the number of Americans who die from HIV/AIDS.
The numbers are sickening. But it is important to remember (and to remind voters) that behind each of these numbers is a real person whose life was or will be cut short by the choices of Republican lawmakers.

The fact that these choices also hurt their states economically is just icing on their sociopathic cake.  As John Gruber, MIT economist and one of the architects of Romneycare put it:
So to my mind, I’m offended on two levels here. I’m offended because I believe we can help poor people get health insurance, but I’m almost more offended there’s a principle of political economy that basically, if you’d told me, when the Supreme Court decision came down, I said, “It’s not a big deal. What state would turn down free money from the federal government to cover their poorest citizens?” The fact that half the states are is such a massive rejection of any sensible model of political economy, it’s sort of offensive to me as an academic. And I think it’s nothing short of political malpractice that we are seeing in these states and we’ve got to emphasize that . . . . They are not just not interested in covering poor people, they are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness.
How do these people look at themselves in the mirror in the morning?

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