On the heels of the Congressional Budget Office report projecting 22 million people could lose health insurance if the Senate's version of Trumpcare becomes law, a new analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (AIM) suggests the legislation could cause the deaths of thousands of people per year.
"People will die... It's not hyperbole. The numbers don't lie."
—Karine Jean-Pierre, MoveOn.org
The study, authored by Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH, and David Himmelstein, MD, bases its conclusion on a comprehensive review of previous literature linking lack of health insurance to increased mortality rates.
The consequences of passing the Senate's plan—which would gut Medicaid over the long-term while lavishing America's wealthiest households with tax cuts—could be devastating, the review found.
In reality, people without health insurance face odds ranging from 3% to 29% higher of dying prematurely compared to someone who has health insurance, concludes the Annals of Internal Medicine review. Taking the midpoint of those odds as a benchmark, Woolhandler suggested that about 1,300 people a year die prematurely every year in the US for every 1 million people who lose health insurance.
Obamacare, which added about 20 million people to the ranks of the insured, likely preserved lives at that same rate.
"Being uninsured is deadly," Woolhandler told Reuters in an interview. "That was the conclusion from a 2002 Institute of Medicine report. The evidence that's accumulated over the last 15 years actually strengthens the Institute of Medicine’s conclusions."
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The report also included favorable words for single-payer healthcare, which has become a rallying cry for activists across the country working to present alternatives to both Trumpcare and the status quo, under which 28 million Americans remain uninsured.
"The best estimate based on scientific studies is that about 29,000 Americans would die each year as a result," Himmelstein said in a statement. "We need to move forward from the ACA to a single payer reform that would cover all Americans, not backwards through repeal."
As a potential vote on the Senate's bill looms, MoveOn.org—in partnership with several other organizations—has launched a "people's filibuster," which is set to take place near the Capitol every day this week.
If millions lose their insurance due to Trumpcare, wrote MoveOn.org spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre in response to AIM's study, "people will die."
"It's that simple," she concluded. "It's not hyperbole. The numbers don't lie."