Bioethics News

Deaths from a Health Care Bill?

July 10, 2017

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said “hundreds of thousands of people will die” if the Senate health care bill becomes law. But what does the research say about the impact of health insurance on mortality rates?

There are several studies backing up the idea that those who lack health insurance have a higher chance of dying prematurely than those with insurance, as we found when we looked at this issue in 2009.

But the research uses terms like “could” and “suggests” and “cannot definitively demonstrate a causal relationship,” not the definitive “will” favored by opponents of the bill. We can’t say whether any specific projection is a correct or valid number.

Democrats have made this a talking point. “We do know that many more people, hundreds of thousands of people, will die if this bill passes,” Pelosi said on “CBS This Morning” on June 26. In a July 2 interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said “tens of thousands of people every single year will die” if the Affordable Care Act were repealed entirely, without a replacement.

Later in that interview, Sanders said that “no one knows exactly the number” but that one study said “up to 28,000 people a year … will die” from the increase in the uninsured under the Republican bills. He and Pelosi are referring to an analysis by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

We’ll explain how that study reached its conclusions, as well as what other research has found.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.