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Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Featured, Health | 9 comments

Conservative Argues That It Is Not A Bad Thing If People Die Due To Repealing Obamacare

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If the Affordable Care Act were to be repealed, as most Republicans are calling for, we would see millions of Americans lose their insurance. We would return to past problems, including people being denied insurance when they have medical problems, people once again being forced to declare bankruptcy due to medical costs, and we would see many more deaths than we will otherwise see.  Michael R. Strain of the American Enterprise Institute has an op-ed in The Washington Post under the headline, End Obamacare, and people could die. That’s okay.

Note again that the author is from the American Enterprise Institute and this is published in The Washington Post. This is not just some isolated blogger or conservative shouting out their personal opinion.

Strain’s logic is that “We make such trade-offs all the time.” For example, “Consider, for example, speed limits. By allowing people to drive their cars at speeds at which collisions result in death, our government has decided that the socially optimal number of traffic fatalities is not zero.”

He has other such examples, but they do not apply to the type of trade-off he is advocating. There are good reasons for having a society in which people can drive, and it is an unavoidable fact that this will lead to a certain number of traffic fatalities. The types of trade offs he discussed are not analogous to taking away health care coverage.

While there are reasons for having a society in which people can drive, despite traffic fatalities,  there is no good reason for either having people uninsured or for a system in which insurance companies are allowed to profit by denying coverage to those who become sick.

Strain argues that, “In a world of scarce resources, a slightly higher mortality rate is an acceptable price to pay for certain goals.” This falsely assumes that health care coverage is something which we cannot afford to provide. However every other industrialized nation on the planet, existing in the same “world of scarce resources,” is able to provide health care coverage to its citizens. The Affordable Care Act is a valuable step in the right direction, but it is an incremental step which still falls short of what is provided in the rest of the industrialized world.

There is no good reason why the United States cannot provide the same level of health care coverage as is seen in the rest of the industrialized world. One reason why we have been unable to do this is the unnecessary middleman–private insurance companies making huge profits while making health care more expensive than elsewhere. Perhaps the answer is that in a world of scarce resources, a system of private insurance is an unacceptable price to pay, and we should be thinking in terms of conversion to a far more cost-effective single payer system.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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  • Slamfu

    Another excellent case of why the GOP is really horrifying sometimes. I ask, tell me about your position. Then they tell me their position. Then I ask why they think that. Then they tell me why. Then I slowly back away, never taking my eyes of the person I was just talking to. Democrats evoke this response in me to a much lesser degree.

  • The_Ohioan

    There may be one other reason the U. S. cannot provide the same level of health care coverage as is seen in the rest of the industrialized world. Our massive spending on security and defense.

    There’s a reason that other countries have superior health care, child care, infant survival rates, and retirement benefits; it’s not a mystery.

    • Slamfu

      Yea, without that $700-800 billion weight around our necks we could probably do a lot more. Money spent on the military is largely money wasted, unless you get in a war of course. A redirect of $200-300 billion from defense to education and infrastructure wouldn’t come close to costing us our title as #1 military in the world, and would do a whole lot to not only boost the economy right now, but would be HUGE in future bennies as well. At some point the scale tips, and spending more on defense actually makes you weaker. I think we are at the point and have been for a long time. Sadly, unless we are spending the same as all of our enemies and allies combined, we don’t feel safe.

      To hear them whine about a mere $50 billion coming out of the defense budget you’d think we’d sold off the entire Navy to Canada or something.

      • e.g. Eisenhower’s prescient warning about the military-industrial complex when he left office.

  • dduck12

    Some folks may pay more for their insurance and some may not have availability to their preferred doctors or plans. That’s also a tradeoff if more people previously not insured now have some sort of coverage.

    • Far more people are paying less than paying more, and far more people are able to keep their preferred doctors and plans with the ACA than under conditions without it.

  • ShannonL

    I wonder if he feels the same way about abortion?

  • Kenneth_Almquist

    I was going to praise Mr. Strain for at least being honest, but after reading his article, I’m not going to. During the debate over the Affordable Care Act, it seemed like every possible change to the law that might have even a chance at garnering Republican support was one that would cause more Americans to die. Rather than fess up to this, Mr. Strain engages in various obfuscations.

    Ever since the Clinton presidency, if not before, the goal of health care reform as envisioned on the left has been to address three problems:

    1) People dying or suffering from lack of health care.
    2) People facing financial disaster due to huge health care bills.
    3) The long term federal budget projections look dire if we don’t do something about the growth of health care costs.

    Obamacare attempts to address all three of these. So the first part of Mr. Strain article, where he talks about the monetary value of a human life, misses the point of the current debate. Repealing the Affordable Care Act would kill Americans and increase the budget deficit.

    Mr. Strain adds: “It wasn’t long ago that conservatives were the ones injecting too much talk of death into the health-care debate. Sarah Palin urged Americans in 2009 to oppose the “death panels” — in reality, end-of-life counseling — in the Democrats’ health-care bills. Liberals argued that this discussion was unhelpful. They were right.”

    It was “unhelpful” because it was dishonest. Sarah Palin wanted Americans to die due to lack of health care, and tried to obscure this by accusing liberals of doing precisely what she wanted to do.

    Mr. Strain’s final move is to talk about the Burr-Coburn-Hatch plan, which he admits has not even been scored by the CBO. What he doesn’t say is that there isn’t even draft legislation for the CBO to score. It’s not that Republicans haven’t been willing to propose legislation reflecting their vision for health care. House Republicans have repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and return us to the status quo prior to Obamacare.

    In short, Mr. Strain doesn’t have the courage of his convictions. He defends the idea of letting people die to the lack of health care, but then pretends that he and other Republicans don’t really mean it.

    • ShannonL

      very well done… almost too much effort in reply to such as unworthy article.

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