Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

We Are Even More Convinced That Thousands Will Die Prematurely if the ACA is Repealed

| Dec. 12, 2017

On Monday, The Washington Post published an article by Casey Mulligan and Tomas Philipson attacking Lawrence Summers’s statement that “thousands” of individuals would die if the Republican tax bill became law. Summers reached his estimate after carefully reviewing the literature and consulting with health economists Jonathan Gruber and Mulligan and Philipson’s University of Chicago colleague Dean Kate Baicker, who has published a number of influential studies on the effect of health insurance on health.

While Summers claimed only that thousands would die, the Baicker et al. studies suggest that at least one person dies for every 1,000 people who lose health insurance. Even with very conservative assumptions about how many people will lose health insurance as a result of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, this implies tens of thousands of premature deaths.

Mulligan and Philipson make errors in logic and engage in a highly selective use of evidence. After seeing the best challenge that the Trump Council of Economic Advisers can come up, we are more convinced of our initial conclusions. Five observations seem important.

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For Academic Citation: Summers, Lawrence and Jonathan Gruber.“We Are Even More Convinced That Thousands Will Die Prematurely if the ACA is Repealed.” The Washington Post, December 12, 2017.

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