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Former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, gives a speech on his foreign policy plan on July 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

'Not Acceptable': Analysis Estimates Biden Healthcare Plan Would Kill 125,000 People in First Decade Alone

As Biden vows to "do everything in my power" to defend system based on for-profit insurance industry, People's Policy Project shows death toll would be equivalent "of 42 September 11-style attacks"

Jake Johnson

After spending the past week sniping at Medicare for All with insurance industry talking points, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Monday unveiled a healthcare plan that one analyst said could cause the deaths of around 125,000 people over the first ten years by leaving millions of Americans uninsured.

"Number of Americans who would die due to the lack of health insurance under Medicare for All: zero. We don't need Medicare for some. We need Medicare for All."
—Warren Gunnels, staff director for Sen. Bernie Sanders

Matt Bruenig, founder of the left-wing think tank People's Policy Project, pointed to Biden's claim that his plan will provide health insurance to 97 percent of Americans and calculated the death toll of leaving three percent of the U.S. population without coverage.

"Even if you suppose that Biden's estimate is right and the uninsurance rate does go to three percent, that still implies an enormous amount of unnecessary death caused by a lack of insurance," Bruenig said. "One commonly-used (e.g. by CAP) estimate states that one unnecessary death occurs annually for every 830 uninsured people. This means that during the first 10 years of Bidencare, over 125,000 unnecessary deaths will occur from uninsurance."

Putting the numbers in more stark terms, Bruenig said the death toll from Biden's healthcare plan would be "equivalent to the death toll of 42 September 11-style attacks."

"Needless to say, this is not acceptable," added Bruenig. "No Democrat should be running on a health plan that does not provide universal coverage."

Warren Gunnels, staff director for Sen. Bernie Sanders, also a contender for the Democratic ticket, contrasted the estimated death toll of Biden's plan with that of a Medicare for All system, which would provide comprehensive insurance to the entire U.S. population.

"Number of Americans who will die due to the lack of health insurance under Biden: An estimated 125,000 over ten years," Gunnels tweeted. "Number of Americans who would die due to the lack of health insurance under Medicare for All: zero. We don't need Medicare for some. We need Medicare for All."

Biden's proposal, outlined on his 2020 campaign website Monday, would create a public option and expand subsidies to help more Americans purchase private insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

In a video accompanying his plan, Biden continued his disingenuous attacks on Medicare for All and vowed to "do everything in [his] power" to preserve the private insurance industry and build on Obamacare:

In what appeared to be a response to Biden's claim that Medicare for All proponents support "getting rid of Obamacare," Sanders highlighted former President Barack Obama's praise of Medicare for All as a "good new idea."

"I fought to improve and pass Obamacare," tweeted Sanders. "I traveled all over the country to fight the repeal of Obamacare. But I will not be deterred from ending the corporate greed that creates dysfunction in our healthcare system."

"We must pass Medicare for All," Sanders said.


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