Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

Yes, the Senate GOP Tax Plan Would Cause 'Thousands' to Die

| Dec. 03, 2017

I suggested on Friday when it became clear that the tax bill would pass that “thousands would die.” In light of my sharp criticism of other economists' claims regarding the legislation, some have asked whether my statement is well grounded. I think it is, but this should be open to debate.

In reaching my judgment, I relied primarily on work by Kate Baicker, a former colleague now serving as dean of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. Kate served on the Council of Economic Advisers during a Republican administration, so I felt that any political bias would operate against the conclusions I drew.

Kate performed two studies on the impact of being insured on mortality by looking at the effect of moving from uninsured to insured. One peer-reviewed paper, co-written with Benjamin Sommers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Sharon Long at the Urban Institute based on the experience in Massachusetts, estimated a reduction of one annual death per 830 people insured. Another, co-written with Sommers and Arnold Epstein, also at the Chan School of Public Health and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at the experience of Arizona, Maine and New York and estimated a reduction of one annual death per 176 people.

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For Academic Citation: Summers, Lawrence.“Yes, the Senate GOP Tax Plan Would Cause 'Thousands' to Die.” The Washington Post, December 3, 2017.

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