In 2009, Sarah Palin created the bogey-man “death panel” to scare the public and undermine support for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). John Boehner and Chuck Grassley fanned the flames of this pants-on-fire lie. We are seven years into the ACA and – surprise, surprise – no “death panels” have materialized to ration care or prescribe euthanasia.
Republicans recently voted to dismantle the ACA, and here is the kicker: Annals of Internal Medicine and New England Journal of Medicine found that dismantling of the ACA will result in the deaths of 36,000 to 43,000 people per year, mostly as a result of people refusing medical attention they cannot afford or failing to pick up on treatable illness in its early stage, in the absence of preventative care. That’s at least twelve 911s per year.
The leading GOP plan to replace the ACA, Paul Ryan’s so-called “A Better Way,” will result in an estimated 60 million people losing access to health care coverage, all the while adding $33 to $41 billion to the deficit over the next decade (Kaiser, Commonwealth). Ryan’s plan, likely to be championed as well by his acolyte Elise Stefanik, allows lifetime caps on care, something that was outlawed under the ACA. Expensive procedures such as heart bypass surgery, organ transplant or cancer treatment can easily surpass these caps, which means we would see many more people filing for personal bankruptcy for medical expenses, as we did pre-ACA.
Meanwhile, by rashly canceling the ACA without a better option in place, the GOP has introduced instability into the health care market, against which insurance companies are already protecting themselves with higher premiums. The Ryan/Stefanik “Better Way” is nothing of the sort; with higher premiums, poorer coverage and higher mortality rates, the GOP and its retrograde approach to health care represent the true death panel.
Benjamin Landry, Canton