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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) appears to have deadly consequences, according to a July study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

“Our estimates suggest that approximately 15,600 deaths would have been averted had the ACA expansions been adopted nationwide as originally intended by the ACA,” Sarah Miller, Sean Altekruse, Norman Johnson, and Laura R. Wherry wrote in the NBER study.

The study examined the mortality rates among low-income people aged 55 to 64 in states that opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA and those that did not.

When the ACA became law, states had the option of expanding Medicaid eligibility to nearly all low-income people, with the federal government covering nearly all the cost, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Still, 14 states from Georgia to Florida to Texas — all with either Republican governors, Republican legislatures, or both — refused to do so.

According to the study, more than 13.5 million people were able to obtain health insurance in the states that embraced the Medicaid expansion. “Our analysis provides new evidence that Medicaid coverage reduces mortality rates among low-income adults,” the authors wrote.

In a state like Texas, the decision to refuse the Medicaid expansion meant approximately 750,000 people were forced to live without a viable health insurance option, even though one could have been available to them under the ACA.

In May 2013, then-Gov. Rick Perry dismissed expanding Medicaid as “foolish,” saying, “Texas will not be held hostage by the Obama administration’s attempt to force us into this fool’s errand of adding more than a million Texans to a broken system.”

In 2015, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott reiterated his party’s position against Medicaid expansion, saying, “Medicaid expansion is wrong for Texas.”

The decision does not sit will with all Texas residents.

“It felt like in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol when Scrooge says, ‘Let them die and reduce the surplus population,'” Tanya Walker told the Texas Tribune in 2018 about her state’s refusal to expand Medicaid eligibility. “That’s how I felt other Texans and my legislators felt about the working poor, ‘If you can’t afford insurance then we don’t care about you.'”

And Texas politicians are not only refusing to expand Medicaid in their own state, but trying to rip away health care from millions in other states as well. Texas is leading a multi-state lawsuit seeking to declare the entire ACA unconstitutional.

If the GOP-led lawsuit is successful, the entirety of the Medicaid expansion would go away, leaving millions without sufficient access to health care.

And based on the results of the NEBR study, that outcome could be deadly for tens of thousands of low-income Americans.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Sen. David Perdue

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) pulled out of his final debate against Democrat Jon Ossoff on Thursday —because he'd rather attend a Donald Trump campaign rally.

The Nov. 1 Senate debate was planned months ago, but Perdue's campaign said he could not participate as promised because he has been too busy doing his job.

"Senator Perdue will not be participating in the WSB-TV debate but will instead join the 45th president, Donald J. Trump, for a huge Get-Out-The-Vote rally in Northwest Georgia. For 8 of the last 14 days of this campaign, Senator Perdue went back to Washington to work for much needed COVID relief," his spokesperson John Burke said in a statement, referencing a failed attempt by Senate Republicans to pass Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) "skinny" $500 billion proposal.

"To make up for the lost time, Senator Perdue has over 20 campaign stops planned for the closing days of this race, and he is excited to welcome and join President Trump in Georgia before November 3rd to campaign for both of their re-election efforts," Burke added.

WSB-TV noted on Thursday that it offered Perdue's campaign other time slots to accommodate the Trump rally, but the overture was rebuffed.

Ossoff's campaign blasted Perdue's "cowardly withdrawal," saying in a statement that the move "says it all: David Perdue feels entitled to his office, and he'll do anything to avoid accountability for his blatant corruption and his total failure during this unprecedented health crisis."

The incumbent's decision to break his promise to debate came one day after a video of Jon Ossoff criticizing Perdue's anti-Obamacare record at a Wednesday debate went viral. As of Friday morning, a 72-second clip of Ossoff has been viewed more than 12 million times.

Perdue responded to that attack by making the odd claim that he repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act — which would take insurance away from hundreds of thousands of his constituents — because he believed doing so would cover more people.

"I voted against the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, because it was taking insurance away from millions of Georgians. Today almost 18 percent of Georgians don't have any health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act," he falsely claimed.

This is not the first time Perdue has put Trump ahead of the interests of Georgians. According to FiveThirtyEight, he has voted with Trump about 95 percent of the time, including backing his right-wing Supreme Court nominees, his tax cuts for large corporations and the very wealthy, and his repeated attempts to take money from military families to pay for a massive Southern border wall.

Medical experts and data analyses have suggested Trump's rallies have been super-spreader events for the coronavirus. Trump has refused to adhere to social distancing rules or to require mask usage at the events and the mass gatherings have frequently been immediately followed by case spikes in the communities where he holds them.

One poll this week found that voters across the country said they are less likely to vote for Trump because of his "large, in-person campaign rallies where wearing a mask is not required of attendees."

The race between Ossoff and Perdue is considered a "toss-up" by election experts, and polls show it as virtual tied.

If no candidate gets a majority on Tuesday, the top two finishers will face off in a January runoff.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.