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Mitt Romney’s campaign has been pushing back against a controversial Priorities USA ad that I called “The Best ObamaCare Ad You’ll Ever See.” In the ad, a worker from a plant that was closed by Bain Capital tells how, following his layoff and loss of family insurance,  his uninsured wife avoided going to the doctor and later died of cancer. Romney’s camp insists that this ad insinuates Romney killed the woman, and some figures in the media rushed to acquit him.

This distraction is useful for Romney because it focuses the discussion on something that isn’t being said instead of looking at how Romney’s actual policy proposals would affect the uninsured. Luckily, Jonathan Alter has brought the issue back into focus.

“People will die in the United States if Obamacare is repealed,” Alter told Ed Schultz on The Ed Show Thursday evening. “That is not an exaggeration. That is not crying fire. It’s a simple fact.”

How do we know that Americans will die if ObamaCare is repealed?

We know that people will die if ObamaCare is repealed because they’re already dying. According to a Harvard Law School study, 45,000 Americans die each year for lack of insurance. When ObamaCare goes into full effect, 30 million more Americans will have health insurance. Will this save all 45,000 Americans who die needlessly because they don’t have coverage? Perhaps not, but it will save thousands of them.

Alter points out that the House GOP has voted to repeal ObamaCare 31 times, as if they got a bonus for each repeal bill that will never become law. The conservative meltdown over a Romney spokesperson who dared to mention RomneyCare should serve to  warn anyone who thinks that a President Romney would get away with anything less than a full gutting of health care reform. If he didn’t seek to repeal ObamaCare, he would have a primary challenge before January 31, 2013.

The woman remembered in the Priorities USA ad didn’t die because of Romney. But thousands of Americans will needlessly suffer and perish if Romney is allowed to repeal the plan he inspired — a plan he knows is saving lives right now in Massachusetts.

P.S: It is worth noting that the Priorities USA ad in question has never actually aired on television as a commercial. But millions of Americans have seen it on the web and on news shows. An ad that’s controversial enough can still hit a nerve and garner millions  of dollars worth of “earned media.” In a world of unlimited, anonymous donations, controversy is still powerful.

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