Commentary

Latest estimate: 4,000 Americans have died already because of Trump healthcare policies

In case you missed it yesterday, the latest numbers show that millions of Americans lost their health insurance last year as conservative policies in Washington and around the country began to take their toll. This is from a story in the Washington Post:

“More than 3 million more people lacked health insurance at the end of 2017 relative to the end of 2016, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. A recent estimate of the connection between a lack of insurance and mortality suggests that for every 800 people without insurance for a year, one will die — meaning that 4,000 more people may have died during the year than would have had they been covered.

That increase in the percentage began in the first quarter of Donald Trump’s presidency. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the percentage of uninsured adults in the United States was 10.9 percent — a low after three years of declines following the passage of the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare). In 2013, before the law went into effect, nearly 1 in 5 adults lacked insurance. Over the course of last year, that figure rose again to 12.2 percent.

The largest driver for this change, Gallup reports, was people declining to buy their own insurance. Over the course of 2017, as Republicans on Capitol Hill debated the shape of a possible repeal of the ACA, the mandate that individuals have health-care coverage was a frequent target of rhetoric. In December, as part of the sweeping tax-overhaul bill signed into law by Trump, that mandate was repealed. An analysis of the effects of that measure by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in November found that the repeal would lead to 13 million fewer people with insurance coverage by 2027 — and 4 million more by 2019.”

Meanwhile, as today’s lead editorial in the Charlotte Observer pointed out, this is only the beginning of the unnecessary deaths:

“The Congressional Budget Office projects 13 million Americans will become uninsured because of the repeal of the individual mandate, which required that Americans buy health insurance or pay a small fine. Though it was unpopular, it was a linchpin of the law and a complement to the federal mandate that everyone receive care in emergencies, even when they couldn’t afford to pay. It made sure there were enough young, healthy people in the marketplace who don’t spend much on health care but whose presence kept premiums down for the older and sicker. For at least some middle-income Americans, those rising premiums will not be offset by the Trump tax cut.

The law helped stabilize hospitals, which didn’t have to write off as much debt from unpaid-for services. It also made it more likely that middle- and lower-income Americans would receive care and be less likely to face personal bankruptcies. More Americans with comprehensive coverage also helped push the abortion rate down to an all-time-low and lowered rates of teen pregnancy. It did all of this – along with helping millions of seniors pay for prescription drugs – while decreasing the deficit a tick. The new tax law will be responsible for fewer insured Americans and increasing the deficit once again.

It’s a horrific tradeoff. Health insurance provides peace of mind that a small bump in take home pay never could. Because Republicans aren’t committed to making sure this trend doesn’t take hold, it’s up to voters to find leaders who will be.”

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