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True or false: 45,000 people a year die because they lack health insurance

Alan-Grayson

In 2009,  U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson described the GOP health care plan as "if you do get sick, die quickly." Now he's up to his old talking points in defense of the Affordable Care Act, say our friends at PolitiFact: 

During a recent interview on CFN-13’s Political Connections, the Orlando-area Democrat offered a feverish defense of the healthcare law and one of its most critical components, a requirement that most everyone acquire health insurance.

"We have 45,000 people in this country who are dying each year because they don't have health coverage," Grayson said. "The Affordable Care Act provides coverage to virtually all of them, and the Republicans … want to stop it. I think it's horrifying."

Really? Are 45,000 people dying each year because they have no health coverage?

While PolitiFact wasn't able to find enough to rate Grayson's statement true or false, "We still believe the issue and background of Grayson’s claim is worthy of scrutiny.

"It comes from a 2009 American Journal of Public Health study, which concludes almost exactly what Grayson said, with a bit softer language. 'Lack of health insurance is associated with as many as 44,789 deaths in the United States, more than those caused by kidney disease.'

"The figure received a lot of media attention during the national debate over health care reform in 2009, as it was more than twice previous estimates. A team of six researchers from the Department of Medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, used their findings to push for universal health care coverage. (Two of the researchers co-founded Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates for a single-payer health system.)

"The report builds upon a trail of research trying to answer the same question: What role does health insurance play in a person’s death?

"Researchers working with the National Academy of Sciences in 2002 found that uninsured residents often delay or abstain from screenings and treatment for cancer or chronic diseases, and they lack access to medications that treat conditions like hypertension or HIV. The researchers estimated 18,000 people between ages 25 and 64 died in 2000 because they did not have health insurance. (People age 65 and older are eligible for health insurance through Medicare.) Read more.

 

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