Note to Harry Reid, Thanks to Obamacare, People Are Dying on Waiting Lists

He’s at it again—Harry Reid, that is. Thursday morning, the outgoing Senate minority leader claimed that if “you get rid of Obamacare, people are going to die.”

Apparently Reid forgot to heed Hillary Clinton’s warning about fake news, because the idea that thousands of people die from lack of health insurance has been rebutted by, of all people, a member of the Obama administration.

Richard Kronick, President Obama’s former director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in 2009 published a paper that “found that uninsured participants had no different risk of dying than those [who] were covered by employer-sponsored group insurance.”

Harry Reid, Science Denier

As multiple articles by fact-checking organizations have explained, it’s very difficult to control for all the variables associated with health, mortality, and lack of insurance. It’s a tough question to analyze: Do the uninsured die because they lack health insurance, or do they die because they are more likely to be poor? As Kronick himself stated:

It seems likely that if we were able to control for additional factors, such as health-related behaviors (smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, and risk-taking behaviors more generally), wealth, or value placed on health or health care, the estimated [mortality] effect of being uninsured would be reduced further. What is uncertain is whether the reduction would being the estimated hazard ratio all the way down to 1.0 or whether an independent effect of being uninsured would remain.

Even liberals like the Brookings Institution’s Henry Aaron have conceded that much of the evidence—including a study from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, which showed that access to health insurance had no measurable effect on physical health outcomes for patients—shows an unclear effect between insurance and mortality: “I am a strong advocate of measures to achieve universal insurance coverage and would rather that Kronick’s study and the Oregon project provided evidence in support of my policy preference. But, as far as mortality is concerned, they just don’t.”

Apparently things like evidence in support of one’s policy preferences present a novel concept to the outgoing leader. So much for the liberal allegation that conservatives are science deniers.

Obamacare Made Vulnerable People Die on Wait Lists

Except for those who die before they can access care. Last month, reports from Illinois noted that no fewer than 752 individuals with disabilities have died—yes, died—while on waiting lists to receive Medicaid services since that state expanded coverage under Obamacare. Ironically enough, on the very same day that Illinois’ legislature expanded Medicaid to the able-bodied under Obamacare, it cut medication funding to special-needs children.

This is “compassion” in the Obama administration’s eyes: Expanding services to the able-bodied while cutting services for special-needs kids.

As I have previously noted, this dynamic hasn’t just happened in Illinois. It has occurred all over the country. In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson pledged to cut waiting lists for individuals with disabilities in half. Instead, they have grown by 25 percent, even as the state expanded coverage to the able-bodied. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich cut Medicaid eligibility for individuals with disabilities by 34,000, even as he unilaterally expanded the program to other Ohioans.

Making irresponsible claims about the effect of repealing Obamacare is bad enough. Making those claims in a vain attempt to justify a law that encourages discrimination against the most vulnerable really takes the cake. The American people deserve better than Reid’s false comments—and they deserve better than Obamacare.

This post was originally published at The Federalist.

There They Go Again…

The liberal advocacy group Families USA is out with a “study” today purporting to tally the number of individuals who died due to a lack of health coverage from 2005 to 2010.  Today’s report extrapolates from a 2002 Institute of Medicine study that claimed about 18,000 individuals died due to lack of health insurance.

There’s just one problem with the IOM study – it has since been challenged and repudiated as inaccurate.  A 2009 paper by Richard Kronick – himself a former Clinton Administration official – included the following conclusions:

Adjusted for demographic, health status, and health behavior characteristics, the risk of subsequent mortality is no different for uninsured respondents than for those covered by employer-sponsored group insurance at baseline….The Institute of Medicine’s estimate that lack of insurance leads to 18,000 excess deaths each year is almost certainly incorrect…There is little evidence to suggest that extending insurance coverage to all adults would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the United States.

And it’s not just Kronick who agrees with this analysis.  Here’s Brookings Institution scholar, and noted liberal, Henry Aaron, in an interview with Politifact on the links (if any) between the uninsured and death totals:

“I found his reasoning compelling,” said Aaron, himself a member of the Institute of Medicine. “In fact, after listening to his presentation, I had a hard time believing that the IOM had done what they had done.”  In interviews, Aaron and other health care scholars agreed with Kronick that uninsured and insured Americans differ in many ways other than their insurance status.  “To estimate the impact of the lack of insurance on mortality rates, one has to control statistically for all of those differences,” Aaron said.  That, he added, is exactly what Kronick has sought to do so.

So an intellectually rigorous analysis by one Democrat – supported as being compelling and thoughtful by other Democrats – gets ignored by a partisan liberal interest group, because it would take away their likely pre-determined conclusion that Obamacare will reduce death rates.  As The Gipper himself stated, there they go again