Obamacare is going to save lives. Real lives. Before, that was just an extrapolation. After all, if you give people health insurance who didn’t have it before, they will see doctors for preventative care, they will treat illnesses before they grow into diseases, and they will be able to care for their diseases if they do develop because they will no longer have to worry about maximum coverage in hospitals or being rejected for pre-existing conditions.
All of this was just theory, however, until now. A new study by the Harvard School of Public Health has looked at the change in mortality rate in Massachusetts since the state passed an identical form of health insurance reform, and the results were clear. “They found that from 2007 to 2010, overall mortality among Massachusetts residents aged 20 to 64 declined by 2.9% relative to control groups in other states. Mortality from causes amenable to healthcare declined by 4.5%,” reports the LA Times. “The reduction was even larger in counties with higher pre-reform rates of uninsurance and low income, which of course are the main targets of Obamacare.”
In short, the study reports, for every 830 people who get health insurance, one death is prevented each year. With Obamacare putting 20 million Americans insured, that means about 24,000 deaths a year would be prevented.
It could have been more, of course, if the GOP were more interested in the health of their constituents than in scoring points against the president. Between repeated attempts to defund the program, block Medicaid expansion and end tax credits, signups haven’t been nearly as high as they could be if everyone worked together to get the uninsured insured and for as affordable an amount as possible.
That GOP governors tried to torpedo the ACA isn’t in doubt. Now, they are condemning it for failures that they themselves caused it to suffer. Salon’s Simon Malloy reports on Florida Governor Rick Scott’s ongoing battle to torpedo Obamacare in Florida. “Rick Scott went a step further and turned the state into a laboratory of anti-Obamacare activism,” writes Malloy. “He and the state Legislature passed a law last June that temporarily suspended the ability of state regulators to negotiate with insurance companies on premiums for individual insurance plans. At the time, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson accused Scott of doing pretty much exactly what he’s doing right now: ‘Nelson … contended in his veto request that legislators removed state rate regulation in order to blame the health care overhaul if rates go up.’”
Which is exactly what Scott is saying. “Obamacare is a bad law that just seems to be getting worse,” Scott said on Monday, according to Sunshine State News. “First, the president said you could keep your doctor. That wasn’t true. Then, he said you could keep your insurance plan if you liked it. That wasn’t true, either. Now, another broken promise — Florida families are going to be slammed with higher costs. Obamacare has failed to live up to its promises in nearly every way.”
Scott and his allies in Florida have made it impossible for the state to reap the benefits of affordable health insurance. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, meanwhile, is going to try to keep suing Obamacare to death. The Republican is trying yet again to sue to get Congress members and their staff exempted from being forced to enroll in and receive a subsidy from the D.C. exchange if they don’t have other insurance. “The Office of Personnel Management rule is not the most egregious example of this administration’s lawlessness, but it is one in which the president’s unilateral actions were specifically directed at members of Congress, and thus it is one I believe I have standing to challenge,” Johnson wrote. “After all, it affected my health insurance, required me to take action to designate my staff and provided special treatment that drove a wedge between me and my constituents.”
Johnson’s suit is mostly ploy to both keep the ACA in the news and work on the death by 1000 papercuts plot to bring the whole insurance scheme down, but is also meant to continue the GOP talking point that a “lawless” President Obama is doing things on his own, without congressional backing, and in some form of unconstitutional executive power trip. The lack of insurance that could come if Johnson somehow is successful won’t affect him (he has insurance through his family) or likely be that large of an issue for the 38 Republican politicians who signed onto his lawsuit. Who it would hurt, especially if subsidies are removed, are the lawmakers’ support staff, who unlike the politicians don’t have vast personal wealth to back up their jobs.
But that’s the quintessential GOP move when it comes to Obamacare: fight it, knowing the fallout will never hurt them, and block those whom it could benefit from ever getting access to it. All in name of politics.
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