Gotta say. . .
When police officers or firefighters rescue people, we celebrate them as heroes. Elected officials are often doing the applauding.
Such recognition is well earned. Why? Because saving lives is critically important. Everyone knows it. In these contentious times, it's one of the few things people agree on. Celebrating our heroes is one of the few "safe" public actions an official can take. It's like celebrating moms and apple pie.
There are other ways to save lives, however. Other ways to be a hero. And, like rushing into a burning building, some of these take courage and put much at risk.
Consider: a 2014 statistical study of real-world outcomes from a Republican healthcare plan revealed a startling way to save lives. It found that for each 830 people who gained health coverage under this plan, one fewer person died each year, on average.
The researchers didn't study just a few people. They analyzed millions of records across multiple years.
It's like flipping a penny millions of times. We're confident the resulting statistic is valid because the sample size — the number of flips — is so large.
Same with this large healthcare study.
So the key finding is rock solid: for every 830 people who gain healthcare coverage, one man, woman or child really is saved from certain death each year.
Under Romneycare, the GOP plan that was studied, 400,000 people gained healthcare insurance who didn't have it before. Divide 400,000 by 830 and we get... nearly 500 people saved from certain death each year. Strictly because of Romneycare.
Those 500-or-so people are alive just as surely as if firefighters had rescued them from burning buildings.
The only difference: we don't know which 500 of the 400,000 people got to live, who would otherwise be dead today. We do know it was 500 rescued last year. Another 500 this year. Another 500 the year after that. And on and on.
Romneycare became the national model for Obamacare. If Republicans now repeal Obamacare and don't replace it with something equally effective, a lot more than 400,000 people will lose healthcare coverage. According to the Congressional budget office, it's 60 times more: 24,000,000 people will lose their health insurance.
Divide by 830 and we find that under ACA repeal, 29,000 people will die each year who would otherwise live — 29,000 men, women and children. They will perish just as surely as if we locked them in a house and set fire to it.
That is precisely how dead these people will be. But they can be rescued, every one of them, including (and especially) the children.
Our elected officials — our US senators and representatives — can rescue them, just as if these officials rushed into burning buildings and carried these children and other people to safety.
Given today's inflammatory politics, these officials might be placing themselves at considerable risk. Saving these people's lives could take a lot of courage.
So I don't envy these officials. But if firefighters at my neighborhood engine company can do it, our elected officials can darn well do it too.
And if they find the courage — and rescue lives by preventing ACA repeal (or equivalent loss of coverage effectiveness) — then we should celebrate them as heroes.
Right now, America needs real heroes. Which public officials will man up, meet the challenge, and grab the glory?