PNHP co-founder Dr. David Himmelstein appeared on MSNBC’s ‘The Ed Show’ on May 9, 2014 to discuss a study he co-authored that found that more than 7,100 deaths are likely from states’ rejection of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Dr. Himmelstein’s segment begins at the 9:58 mark. See the unofficial transcript of his comments in the excerpts below.
Ed Schultz: I want to welcome Dr. David Himmelstein, public health professor at the City University of New York, and also with us tonight is E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor. Doctor, it’s great to have you tonight, we’ll start with you. What’s your reaction to the response that Obamacare is getting across the country? Did you anticipate where we were in October that we would be where we are as a country right now here in May?
David Himmelstein: I think we’ve had more people sign up than we’d expected, and frankly we’ve been very disappointed that states are refusing to expand Medicaid, that the Republicans are blocking a Medicaid expansion that the federal government would pay 100 percent of, and denying 7.7 million Americans the coverage they need.
Schultz: In your survey [the Health Affairs Blog post on the health and financial harms of states opting-out of the Medicaid expansion], how accurate is it? How accurate is your research that this many people [7,000 – 17,000] could lose their lives because of not having access to this program?
Himmelstein: We used the latest and best medical research on how much lack of insurance leads to problems and the estimate is that about 2 people in every 1,000 will die each year because they don’t have health care coverage. And what that says is that the 7.7 million people who are being uninsured because the Republicans aren’t expanding Medicaid, that means 7,000, and as many as 17,000 deaths. We’re pretty confident in those numbers. The low side, frankly, is based on a study that my group published about 10 years back in the American Journal of Public Health. We’re pretty liberal, but a more conservative group said we were too conservative in that, that the 7,000 number is too low and that the 17,000 number is closer to the truth.
Schultz: Doctor, is there any way that Obamacare could be repealed? And I’m not looking at it from a political standpoint, but I’m looking at it, has the system gone so far and been implemented and affected so many people, it would be almost impossible to reverse it?
Himmelstein: I think it would be awfully hard to reverse, and I think that if anything there’s an appetite to go much further, to do a really thoroughgoing reform that we’d like to see – a single-payer reform, something I support and that 19,000 of my colleagues in Physicians for a National Health Program support. I think we need a Medicare-for-All kind of system, which would be even more efficient, better coverage, and do better for our nation than what we’ve got. But it’s going to be awfully hard to go backwards from here.