The Republican-authored Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is out, and it’s received even more backlash than the original. As wheelchair-bound protestors were removed from outside Mitch McConnell’s office, Democrats, a large swath of the public, and the country’s top medical professionals made their protestations clear.
Already, before any detailed analysis of the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) has been done, it’s clear that it’s more severe than the House’s original, and millions of people will lose their health insurance. Consequently, people will die – it’s now a grim question of how many.
According to a brand-new assessment by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive public policy research organization, it is 216,900. These fatalities will be a direct result of 23 million people losing their health coverage by 2026.
Two caveats: firstly, this value is based off an independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the AHCA, not the BCRA; secondly, these values may be a slight overestimate – the CAP is a fact-driven but left-leaning agency. Nevertheless, the BCRA is looking to be even harsher than the AHCA, and previous estimates of AHCA-linked mortality seem to back up this truly disgraceful statistic.
The number stems from a respected study in the Annals of Public Medicine, one that looks at mortality rates under the precursor to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This research found that 320 deaths per year were prevented since the initiative began back in 2006. Combining this with the uninsured data projections from the CBO, the CAP calculated their value of 216,900 potential deaths nationwide.
It's not a perfect estimate, but it's not unreasonable either.
Back in 2009 when the ACA – better known as Obamacare – was proposed, a powerful lie was spread by some of its most high-profile Republican opponents: that it would result in the formation of “death panels”, where bureaucrats would decide whether people who were sick or disabled should be worthy of healthcare.
There’s no truth to it whatsoever, as was made clear by the hundreds of hearings and debates about the ACA, along with the hundreds of independent assessments of the bill. Politifact deemed the “death panel” notion the Lie of the Year 2009.
Fast-forward to 2017, where the BCRA has emerged all of a sudden without a single public hearing or debate about it. There has been no consultation, no reaching across the aisle. It’s due to be voted on at the start of July, meaning that there’s no chance it will get a proper reading beforehand.
However, even just a quick read through reveals that it’s nothing short of cruel. Our summary of the bill can be read here, but in short, it gives billions to the wealthy, and robs the poor, sick, disabled, young, and elderly of their healthcare. These people all rely on the ACA not just to keep healthy, but to literally stay alive.
So if the CAP’s estimates are correct, or even close to being correct, then it seems that there are death panels after all. In this instance, they’re the GOP Senators that are signing off on the BCRA.