WashPost Op-Ed: Obamacare Repeal Will Kill 43,000 People a Year

According to a recent January 31 Bloomberg Politics article, conservatives are fuming over the slow pace of the Obamacare repeal effort.   But if you believe the Washington Post, the sky will fall if it is repealed.

Even the esteemed Congressional Budget Office, according to Joel Zinberg of the American Enteprise Institute, is getting in on the act: “estimates that in the first year after full repeal...18 million people would become uninsured.”

A January 23 Washington Post article built on that data and claimed the results would be deadly. Literally. The op-ed by socialist professors David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler of "Physicians for a National Health Program" headlined “Repealing the Affordable Care Act will kill more than 43,000 people annually.”

"For more than 30 years, we have studied how death rates are affected by changes in health-care coverage, and we’re convinced that an ACA repeal could cause tens of thousands of deaths annually," they boasted. Citing a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, they cued up the fear : “Even a conservative estimate of 20 million losing coverage in the event of an ACA repeal yields an estimate of 43,956 deaths annually.”

Ugh. That is more than twice the amount of people who can fit into Madison Square Garden or close to 120 people dying every day in the United States as a direct result of repeal!

This is no small claim, no matter where one falls down on the issue of Obamacare. So what are we to make of such ominous predictions? Will tens of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens die as a result? No.

There is another, often omitted side to the story omitted by the media and liberal pundits. Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Foundation explains in a Forbes article: “[The claim that these deaths will take place] assumes that everyone on the exchanges or in the individual market will become uninsured if Obamacare is repealed and replaced.  A recent CBO study echoing similar claims, assumes that there will only be a partial repeal of Obamacare.  It does not take into account that many of the 20 million will actually get new and better coverage in a replacement plan [emphasis mine].”

Ms. Pipes noted a New York Times op-ed also carried a not-so-subtle headline" "Without Obamacare, I Will Get Sicker, Faster, Until I Die."

But she wrote that under Republican plans for replacement “like House Speaker Paul Ryan’s 'A Better Way' proposal... individuals would still have access to quality, affordable coverage through state-based  high-risk pools.” Ryan’s plan provides $25 billion in federal funding for these pools over 10 years. And Dr. Tom Price, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, offered $1 billion a year for three years under his “Empowering Patients First Act.”

In other words, the dire predictions are only relevant in the remote possibility of no replacement plan which would adequately address those who would lose insurance under repeal.

Repeal and replace of Obamacare will not be the disaster that the Left claims it will be. But leftists pushing single-payer health care plans love to push the idea that conservatives cause deaths, and socialism saves lives.

Christian Robey
Christian Robey
Christian Robey is Political Director for the Media Research Center.