Montana Politics Steve Daines US Politics

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?


If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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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?

  • 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.

    • Tell me how the Clinton Foundation got rich from the ACA, you Fox News-addled lunatic.

      Read the article, which clearly explains how more people will die because of repeal. Facts should matter.

      • From your CNBC. I guess they had some spare time between feeding Hillary debate questions.

        A political committee for Mylan has donated to most of the Senate committee that has asked the drugmaker to explain price increases for allergy treatment EpiPen and could grill executives in a hearing on the matter.
        The Mylan Inc. PAC has given $13,500 to four current members of the Senate Judiciary Committee since 2014, including $5,000 to ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and $5,000 to the Senate’s likely next Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Since 1999, the PAC has donated more than $60,000 to 11 current members of the 20-person judiciary committee. Most of those donations came after 2008.
        This illustrates the reach of Mylan’s political effort, which extended to candidates and political action committees in 22 states between December, 2014, to the end of 2015. The Mylan PAC had $95,500 in political contributions for that period, while incurring $319,000 in indirect lobbying expenses as part of trade association membership.
        The judiciary committee’s chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, this week requested more information from Mylan about EpiPen pricing amid furor over the its 400 percent cost increase in recent years. Grassley’s campaign committee received a $5,000 donation from the Mylan PAC in 2006, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
        In all, the campaigns of Leahy and Schumer have received $15,000 and $9,500 from the PAC, respectively.
        Chris Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images
        Heather Bresch, chief executive officer of Mylan
        Mylan CEO Heather Bresch also personally gave $2,700 to Schumer’s campaign committee in June. She previously contributed $2,400 and $1,000 to Leahy and Grassley’s committees in 2009 and 2006, respectively.
        The $60,000 the Mylan PAC gave those senators’ campaigns makes up only about 7 percent of the roughly $900,000 in contributions it has given to committees since 1998. It is only a meager sum in the high-spending American political process. In addition, nothing points to those senators doing Mylan favors because of the donations.
        Still, it raises questions about Mylan’s links to the committee ahead of its possible wider scrutiny of the company’s pricing.
        A spokeswoman for Grassley said he takes legal contributions that come with no strings attached and do not affect his Senate work.
        Mylan and a spokesperson for the judiciary committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
        A trade group Mylan contributes to has also supported senators on the judiciary committee. The Mylan PAC has given $64,000 to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association PAC since 2003, making an annual contribution. That organization has supported some of the same senators as the Mylan PAC while giving money to other lawmakers.
        The PAC gave Grassley and Leahy $1,000 each last year. It has also donated $5,000 to Schumer since last year.
        Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., judiciary committee members who did not get contributions from the Mylan PAC, received donations from the generic pharmaceutical association PAC. Blumenthal has received $3,000 since 2014, while Flake got $2,500 in 2014.
        Grassley, who has called on Mylan to give more information on why it hiked prices, is not the only politician involved in the debate who has received money from the Mylan PAC. The campaign committee for Hillary Clinton, who called on Mylan to reduce EpiPen prices this week, received $2,000 from the organization in 2006 when she was a senator.
        The company also gave a donation in the range of $100,001 to $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation at an unspecified date.
        — CNBC’s Eamon Javers contributed to this report.

          • Tracey was questioning why the outrageous prices charged by the pharmaceutical industry was effectively going unchecked and you asked how they were getting rich. This is just one incident. Finding corruption there is about as difficult as tracking a bear through a snowbank. This was just the EpiPen. Do I need to look for others? Diabetes drugs and supplies?

            Mylan also gave a donation in the range of $100,001 to $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. How much has the Clinton Foundation received since November?

  • 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, and bribery. Ever hear of the Cornhusker kickback? The Louisiana Purchase? Where The Obama Regime bought off Dem Senators votes?

    The ACA is dying, and will be gone soon – own it.

    If you really want universal health care, start pushing a Constitutional Amendment, because contrary to lib opinion, there is no ‘Right’ to free health care in America.

    • 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!

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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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