The Congressional Budget Office released a report on June 26 that said the Senate GOP health care bill would cause 22 million Americans to lose their health coverage by 2020, and now a new study finds that thousands could die from a lack of health care (video below).
A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on June 27 found that 28,600 Americans could possibly die early if they lose their health insurance coverage, notes Democracy Now. The study stated: "Insurance is the gateway to medical care, whose aim is not just saving lives but also relieving human suffering."
Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at CUNY-Hunter College and lead author of the study, told Democracy Now how increasing the uninsured population raises the death rate:
We reviewed the world’s scientific literature on the relationship between health insurance and mortality. And there is really now a scientific consensus that being uninsured raises the death rates. It raises your death rates by between 3 and 29 percent.
And the math on that is that if you take health insurance away from 22 million people, about 29,000 of them will die every year, annually, as a result. That’s what we found by reviewing the literature.
There was a similar review in New England Journal of Medicine. We punished our own study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which is the official organ of the American College of Physicians, the nation’s largest medical specialty society.
Woolhandler noted how Medicaid cuts in the GOP health plan would negatively affect elderly people and disabled children:
So, Medicaid is going to be cut not just for poor people, but for people in nursing homes. Most people in a nursing home eventually have to rely on Medicaid to pay the bill, because nursing home care takes all your money, and you have to rely on Medicaid.
If you have a disabled child, you have to rely on Medicaid. If you have a relative who has serious mental illness or substance abuse, they’re going to be relying on Medicaid. So it takes money from all of these people, not just the folks who are poor now, to give this giant tax cut to the top 1 percent of taxpayers.
Woolhandler also replied to the assertion made by some Republicans that people who lack health insurance in the U.S. do not die from a lack of medical care:
Well, Raul Labrador said it. Senator Ted Cruz has said that. Marco Rubio has said that. Secretary Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, has implied that, that you can be uninsured and nothing happens. That’s simply not true.
The science is showing us that if you lack health insurance, you don’t get the care you need to stay healthy, and that people die earlier as a result. And I think the Republicans recognize this is a very dangerous idea for them, that people are going to die because of their behavior. But that’s what the scientific consensus is saying.
The American Medical Association condemned the GOP Senate health bill in a letter to the GOP leadership on June 26, reports Vox.
The AMA's executive vice president and CEO, James Madara, wrote: “Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or 'first, do no harm.' The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels."
Madera added: "The Senate proposal to artificially limit the growth of Medicaid expenditures below even the rate of medical inflation threatens to limit states' ability to address the health care needs of their most vulnerable citizens."