Port: Tying body counts to healthcare reform a stupid talking point
When I wrote my column last week chastising bomb-throwing ideologues like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for suggesting that Republicans were out to murder people with health care policy, I didn’t think it would be all that controversial.
“People will die,” Warren said during a recent floor speech.
That seemed a self-evidently absurd statement to me. I thought even hard core progressives would admit that the statement went too far.
Boy, was I wrong.
In the week since that column published, I’ve been excoriated in letters to the editor, social media messages, and a deluge of emails filling up my inbox.
Apparently lots of people think accusing the political opposition of homicide by health care policy is perfectly sane.
Welcome to American politics, circa 2017, where the mouthbreathers hold sway by shouting louder than everyone else.
I didn’t think it would be necessary to explain why tying a body count to Republican health care policy is a colossally stupid talking point, but I guess it is.
The assumption is that the Republican health care bill will cause people to die by denying them insurance coverage.
While it’s fair to argue that any significant diminishment in coverage can have adverse consequences for overall health, it’s worth noting that many of the people we’re told would lose coverage under the Republican plan aren’t really losing access to coverage.
Most of them would simply opt out of coverage, because Republicans would be doing away with the individual insurance mandate. Freed of a government requirement to buy insurance, many Americans would choose to do without.
Would that be bad for their health? Probably. But whose fault is that? Theirs, for making the choice? Or Republicans, for giving them that choice?
Reasonable people would say the former. The rabid, unreasonable partisans on the left would say the latter.
Which was my point.
But suppose we apply this standard to left wing health care policy.
In 2014, a Brookings Institute study concluded that under Obamacare “enrollment-weighted premiums in the individual health insurance market increased by 24.4 percent beyond what they would have had they simply followed trends.”
Millions in the individual health insurance market also lost their existing coverage.
That’s a lot of fiscal and lifestyle turbulence to inject into the personal lives of Americans. And we know that things like financial stress have a significantly deleterious impact on health.
If Republicans are murdering people with their health care reforms, can we say the same of Democrats who backed Obamacare?
Or is it time we admit that this is a stupid talking point, and that those deploying it should be mocked and marginalized and certainly not taken seriously?
Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.
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