On Monday, following the Congressional Budget Office’s report that Trumpcare would result in a drop in health insurance coverage of 24 million by 2026, socialist loonbag Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) raged, “If this legislation is passed and millions of people are thrown off health insurance … thousands of Americans will die.” He continued, “I think that legislation is disgusting. It is immoral. It must be defeated and I hope there is enough sense amongst some of the Republicans.”
First off, this is idiocy because it implies that any system that does not mandate government coverage for everyone kills millions of people – by Sanders’ metric, the only guilt-free system would be a nationalized one.
But the statement isn’t even true on its own merits.
1. Nearly Everyone Who Loses Insurance Under Trumpcare Is On Medicaid. Medicaid is government sponsored health care. And most doctors don’t take it. As Jim Geraghty notes, “As of 2015, only 67 percent of doctors take Medicaid, and only 45 percent of doctors take new patients on Medicaid.” And according to the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, as Geraghty also notes, Medicaid does not improve medical outcomes by any real metric. It did not decrease ER visits; in fact, it increased it. While Medicaid users received more diagnostic care, the study found that it “had no statistically significant effect on several measures of physical health,” including blood pressure, cholesterol, or cardiovascular risk. As the Manhattan Institute reports:
The best statistical estimate for the number of lives saved each year by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is zero. Certainly, there are individuals who have benefited from various of its provisions. But attempts to claim broader effects on public health or thousands of lives saved rely upon extrapolation from past studies that focus on the value of private health insurance. The ACA, however, has expanded coverage through Medicaid, a public program that, according to several studies, has failed to improve health outcomes for recipients. In fact, public health trends since the implementation of the ACA have worsened, with 80,000 more deaths in 2015 than had mortality continued declining during 2014–15 at the rate achieved during 2000–2013.
In other words, no health insurance does not mean no care.
Also worth noting: in 2015, under Obamacare, mortality rose and life expectancy dropped for the first time in decades.
2. The CBO Wildly Overestimates Obamacare’s Impact. In order to find that 24 million fewer people would have health coverage under Trumpcare than Obamacare, the CBO had to wildly inflate Obamacare’s coverage impact. Here’s Avik Roy on that point:
As the below chart shows, in 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was passed, CBO estimated that 21 million people would enroll in the ACA exchanges in 2016. The actual number was closer to 10 million. Even now, CBO believes that 18 to 19 million people will soon be enrolled in the exchanges, when in fact enrollment is degrading under current law, and will likely end up stabilizing at about 10 to 11 million.
This means that the base rate against which the CBO is comparing Trumpcare is just wrong. Roy suggests that the CBO estimate on Obamacare coverage could “be off by as much as 19 million.”
3. The Individual Mandate Is A Mandate. Sanders seems to assume that everyone on health insurance wants to be on health insurance under Obamacare. Even the CBO says that’s not true. As of 2018, 14 million people would drop out of the health insurance market by choice if they were allowed to do so without a fine from the government. That includes 5 million people who “will only enroll in Medicaid because the individual mandate forces them to do so,” as Roy points out.
So no, millions of Americans aren’t slated to die because of Trumpcare. That’s a wild exaggeration, reliant on the myth that government coverage is the only alternative to no coverage, and that government has an absolute responsibility to ensure health coverage for everyone.