Friday, July 27, 2012

A Couple of Notes on Government

Who causes the government to grow? Republican presidents, that's who, according to these stats compiled and visualized by the New York Times. Since the only fair way to look at size of government is as a percent of GDP (or another relative measure), that's what they did.

I made my own additions to one of their graphs, noting the years of Democratic presidents in yellow. The red dots help to spot the start and end of each presidency, the better to check the overall percentage for each leader.

Since the Carter administration, Democrats have left the government at a smaller sizes than Republicans. George H.W. Bush was the only Republican to decrease the size, and that wasn't by much. Eisenhower and George W. Bush oversaw the largest increases, and Clinton the largest decrease.

Is anyone truly surprised by this story? Oh, probably a few people who are in denial.

A new study found that when more people -- in this case, able-bodied, poor adults without children -- are allowed to sign up for Medicaid coverage, fewer people die:

Researchers looked at mortality rates in [three] states [that added coverage] — New York, Maine and Arizona — five years before and after the Medicaid expansions, and compared them with those in four neighboring states — Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Mexico and New Hampshire — that did not put such expansions in place.

The number of deaths for people age 20 to 64...decreased in the three states with expanded coverage by about 1,500 combined per year, after adjusting for population growth in those states...

In the five years before the expansion, there were about 46,400 deaths per year, while in the five years after the expansion, there were about 44,900 deaths per year. During the same period, death rates in the four comparison states increased...

When researchers adjusted the data for economic factors like income and unemployment rates and population characteristics like age, sex and race, and then compared those numbers with neighboring states, they estimated that the Medicaid expansions were associated with a decline of 6.1 percent in deaths, or about 2,840 per year for every 500,000 adults added.

While the data included all deaths, not just deaths of Medicaid recipients, the decline in mortality was greatest among nonwhites and people living in poorer counties, groups most affected by expanded Medicaid coverage. 
It doesn't surprise me, of course, given the wrenching stories of people dying because they didn't have insurance, like Nikki White and Nora Longley. It's time the people who oppose the Affordable Care Act (and even more so, single-payer health care) admit they think we all should live in Scalialand, Home of the Brave But Dead.

No comments: