TER­ROR OR NO HEALTH CARE WILL KILL YOU JUST AS DEAD

Chicago Sun-Times - - TAKE 2 - Email: nstein­berg@sun­times.com NEIL STEIN­BERG @ NeilStein­bergCST

March 6. Two weeks ago. Does the date stand out in your mind? It should. On that day, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed his sec­ond travel ban, deny­ing visas to res­i­dents of six pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries for 90 days and bar­ring all refugees for four months.

The or­der was called “Pro­tect­ing the Na­tion from For­eign Ter­ror­ist En­try Into the United States.” The ad­min­is­tra­tion ar­gued for its ne­ces­sity us­ing words re­lated to pro­tec­tion: se­cu­rity, safety, risk. “We can­not risk the prospect of malev­o­lent actors us­ing our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem to take Amer­i­can lives,” said Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John F. Kelly.

Also on that day — the same day— Repub­li­cans of­fered up their plan to dis­mem­ber Oba­macare.

No one spoke of pro­tec­tion or risk. In­stead, Oba­macare was be­ing dis­man­tled in the name of . . . what’s that word Paul-Ryan kept us­ing? Right, “ac­cess.” If the gov­ern­ment stopped blaz­ing a route to in­surance, Amer­i­cans would be free to wan­der into the mar­ket­place and buy what­ever in­surance they like, the sky’s the limit, pro­vided they can pay for it— which many can’t.

So one mea­sure, the travel ban, is be­ing taken to pro­tect Amer­i­can lives. The other, to give them ac­cess to op­tions.

But what if we took those two val­ues and swapped them? Ap­ply con­cern for ac­cess to the travel ban, and se­cu­rity to Oba­macare. What would that teach us?

If we ap­proach our im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy by stress­ing the im­por­tance of ac­cess, we’d rec­og­nize that we’re a coun­try of im­mi­grants, that peo­ple should have a chance to come here and live here and prove them­selves. That while, yes, peo­ple from these par­tic­u­lar coun­tries could the­o­ret­i­cally cause trou­ble, that po­ten­tial isn’t lim­ited to Iran, Libya, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Syria and Ye­men. Ter­ror can come from any­where.

And if we prize safety of Amer­i­can lives while ex­am­in­ing Oba­macare? The Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice es­ti­mates that 24 mil­lion Amer­i­cans will lose their health in­surance by 2026. Will not hav­ing health in­surance make them less safe? Will it

their lives? Of course it will. Not hav­ing health in­surance leads to peo­ple who are less healthy. It makes their lives shorter. How much shorter?

There are lots of num­bers to choose from, but I set­tled on fig­ures from a con­ser­va­tive anal­y­sis by a Repub­li­can aca­demic ar­gu­ing that not hav­ing in­surance is an ac­cept­able lifestyle risk, like be­ing over­weight or smok­ing.

“The best ev­i­dence shows that the av­er­age mor­bid­ity ben­e­fit, or re­duc­tion of the in­ci­dence or sever­ity of dis­ease, as­so­ci­ated with gain­ing health in­surance cov­er­age for one year would equal 3.7 to 6.8 days of healthy life,” writes Christo­pher Conover, a re­search scholar at Duke Univer­sity’s Cen­ter for Health Pol­icy and In­equal­i­ties Re­search, in “How Risky is It To Be Unin­sured?”

So call it five healthy days added to life for ev­ery year of pos­sess­ing health in­surance, which means that not hav­ing health in­surance takes away those five days.

Five days. Less than a week. That doesn’t sound like too much. But then think about the huge num­ber of peo­ple we’re talk­ing about. If 24 mil­lion Amer­i­cans lost their health in­surance and with it five days of liv­ing apiece, that’s 120 mil­lion days of life lost a year.

Di­vide 120 mil­lion days by 365 days in a year and you get 328,767 years of Amer­i­can life lost, ev­ery year, so that Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans can ex­press their death­less ha­tred of Barack Obama and, of course, rich folks can get tax breaks. Quite a lot, re­ally.

On the same day the pres­i­dent ar­gues that res­i­dents of cer­tain coun­tries— whose cit­i­zens have not cost one day of Amer­i­can life due to an act of ter­ror on U. S. soil— de­serve spe­cial ob­struc­tion, the Repub­li­cans hatch a plan that will make mil­lions of Amer­i­cans sicker, less se­cure, more anx­ious and die ear­lier. An Amer­i­can killed by a ter­ror­ist and an Amer­i­can killed be­cause no­body di­ag­nosed his cancer are equally dead.

The good news is that the courts are block­ing the sec­ond travel ban the way they blocked the first. And Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans, though cov­er­ing their ears and clamp­ing their eyes, are still hear­ing the muted cries of con­stituents who woke up af­ter March 6 to the real- world im­pli­ca­tions of the wound they in­flicted on them­selves on Nov. 8.

| AP FILE PHOTO

House Speaker Paul Ryan talks about the GOP plan to re­peal and re­place the Af­ford­able Care Act.

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