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Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Fact Check Statistic; Gets Owned

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by Micah J. Fleck

Bernie Sanders once again made a factually shaky claim for political purposes, but this time got called on his exaggerated rhetoric by the press.

The claim: If ObamaCare is repealed, over 36,000 people will die annually. Scary number, right? The problem is that it isn’t true. And The Washington Post explains why:

For context, more than 2.6 million people died in the United States in 2015, or nearly 7,200 per day. So Sanders is suggesting repeal of the law would increase the number of deaths by 1.4 percent.

Sanders obtained the figure of 36,000 from a calculation by ThinkProgress, a left-leaning website, according to his aides. Essentially, ThinkProgress assumed that repeal will result in 29.8 million people losing their insurance and that one person will die for every 830 people who lose their insurance. That yields a number of 35,903.

So this is an estimate based on two other estimates. How credible are the other two estimates?

The Obama administration says that about 20 million people have gained insurance because of the ACA. We’ve done some digging on this number — some conservative analysts have raised questions about it — but it generally seems in the ballpark. Surprisingly, more of the increase in coverage comes from the expansion of Medicaid, not the creation of the exchanges for individual insurance.

The larger number of 29.8 million comes from an Urban Institute report that assumes Republicans will repeal parts of the law through the reconciliation process without outlining any replacement plan, thus leading to a near collapse of the nongroup insurance market. That’s a pretty big assumption.

Moreover, one cannot assume that everyone will automatically lose coverage. One recent study has indicated that nearly 30 percent of the gain in the insured came from people who were already eligible for Medicaid. This is known as the “woodworker” effect. In theory, these people still would be eligible even if the expansion of Medicaid was repealed, though the authors of the report dispute that, saying the woodworker effect took place precisely because of policies in the law.

The rest of the article can be read HERE.

Once more we see that these “statistics” are based on wild assumptions that the other side of the debate has absolutely no plan for how to account for the people currently affected by the crisis. Why assume this? Because it’s more convenient for their boogyman narrative surrounding the Republicans. Until actual proof exists that such extremism will actually occur in this case, Sanders would do well to stick to facts and not fear monger.


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