Senator Daines, Don’t Kill 43,000 People A Year


Senator Daines:

Look, I get that using science and math to persuade you is probably a failed approach. Despite your commendable background as a businessman, you’ve ignored the settled science on climate change, preferring, it seems to believe that the planet’s rapid, dangerous warming is somehow disconnected from human activity no matter what scientists say.

But perhaps it’s just that the numbers and science of climate change are too large, too abstract, or too long-term to process. It’s hard to understand how changes of just a few degrees can lead to irreversible, global harm.

A new study, though, by two professors of public health offers you another chance to use science to save lives–in a direct, immediate way. Professors David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler finds that if Republicans do succeed in repealing the Affordable Care Act, 43,000 people a year will die who otherwise wouldn’t have. From the Washington Post:

The story is in the data: The biggest and most definitive study of what happens to death rates when Medicaid coverage is expanded, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that for every 455 people who gained coverage across several states, one life was saved per year. Applying that figure to even a conservative estimate of 20 million losing coverage in the event of an ACA repeal yields an estimate of 43,956 deaths annually.

The causes of the increased death a predictable list: reduced preventive care, diminished access to reproductive health services, states and insurers racing to the bottom in their coverage, and badly weakened health care in place for elderly Americans.

Republicans, if they trouble to answer these concerns, would have Americans believe that they will replace the Affordable Care Act with something better, despite their refusing to work to make the law better when it was written or work to reform it once it became law.

The simple truth is this: with majorities in both houses of Congress since 2014, the Republicans have failed to come up with a plan to replace the ACA. Sure, they’ve made promises to keep the popular parts of the bill, like protecting those with pre-existing conditions and allowing kids to remain on their parents’ coverage, but they’ve never explained how they would pay for those items, nor how they would ensure that insurers continue to offer the services. Instead, for years, they’ve ignored that healthcare costs and insurance rates would have climbed with or without the Affordable Care Act, wailed about tyranny while millions were able to receive regular health care for the first times in their lives, and worried more about political optics than practical policymaking.

And now we’re supposed to believe that they will implement a replacement? When their party’s leader, the new president, is offering nothing in the way of substance?

It’s probably rare, even for a Senator, to make decisions that are literally a matter of life and death. Senator Daines, you’ve actually managed to find your way on one of Sarah Palin’s imaginary “death panels” –and have the lives and health of hundreds of thousands of people in your hands. A few Republicans with the courage to admit that undermining the Obama legacy and rigid adherence to ideology are less important than the well-being of American citizens are all it would take to stop this ill-conceived, poorly reasoned, and badly rushed plan for taking effect.

The incalculable costs to families across the United States make it clear what the right thing to do is. Work to reform or even replace the Affordable Care Act if you must, Senator Daines, but please don’t rashly jeopardize the lives of thousands of Montanans. You have said repeatedly that you value human life. What better way to show it than to put aside partisanship and vote to save it?


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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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LKEricBillDon Pogrebadpogreba Recent comment authors
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Yes, I think we should leave ACA alone and watch the few remaining insurance abandoned it, more people like me leave it (24% premium increase, deductible $750 to $2100), and watch it implode on itself…….not! What do you want to bet on?

Tracey Vivar

The ACA needs to be tweaked, not repealed. There is nothing to replace it so the repubs are lying when they say they’ll repeal & replace. We need to address the outrageous prices charged by the pharmaceutical industry & the insurance companies. They are largely responsible for the increases being seen overall.


You had 8 years..2500 ACA pages and no limit set based on the COLA? Who got rich…the DNC and the Clinton Foundation? Do you want to go play golf tomorrow?
44K people died every year prior to ACA? Tragic.


Pogie – you are under the misconception that Obamacare was a permanent, workable entitlement. If that’s what you heard, you were lied to. But don’t feel bad, a lot of lies were told. If you like your plan you can keep it. If you like your Doctors you can keep them. A family’s costs will DROP an average of $200 per month. Everybody will be covered. All those promises were lies, and that cannot be disputed. The ACA is failing. It belongs to the Democrats, who locked the GOP out of the meetings and passed it by breaking the rules,… Read more »


Um, Eric, just WHO the hell paid for YOUR medical care when you wiped your dumb azzz out on your motocycle? I seem to remember my friend, Dr. John Dorr, pieced your azz back together. Come on, Eric. Fess up. Time to stop living a lie. You’ve been outed, dude!


Insurance paid for it Larry !

Insurance that was not free, but paid for.

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