On Tuesday, frothing at the mouth Tea Party faithful will protest health care reform legislation by descending on the Senate and holding a "die-in." But while the Tea Baggers will feign dropping dead to dramatize their opposition to health care reform they wrongly believe will leading to rationing, they seem blissfully unconcerned about the thousands of Americans who actually die each year due to lack of insurance.
As TPM reported:
Tea Party organizer Mark Meckler writes on his site: "The intention is to go inside the Senate offices and hallways, and play out the role of patients waiting for treatment in government controlled medical facilities. As the day goes on some of us will pretend to die from our untreated illnesses and collapse on the floor."
Of course, in the American health care system as it actually is, estimates of the yearly body count from private health insurance range as high as 45,000.
Back in September, a study by Harvard Medical School found that almost 45,000 Americans die each year due to lack of health insurance. To translate that into a metric even Tea Baggers can understand, that annual death toll exceeds the number of U.S. military personnel killed during the entire Korean War.
Even using more conservative models, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein noted, the $900 billion Democratic health care plan could save 150,000 American lives over a 10-year span. (Again, translated into Tea Bagese, that's more than was lost by the United States armed forces during World War I.) As Klein describes the " 150,000-life health-care bill":
Oddly, that label hasn't made its way into the conversation. But it is, if anything, a conservative estimate. The Institute of Medicine developed a detailed methodology for projecting the lives lost due to lack of insurance. The original paper estimated that 18,000 lives were lost in 2000, and the Urban Institute updated that analysis with data for 2006, yielding an estimate of 22,000 lives. As for 150,000, well, that's almost certainly too low. That's just the 2006 number across 10 years, which is the time frame we generally use for health care, with a third of the lives saved lopped off, as we're not going to cover all of the uninsured. But since the population of the uninsured grows every year, and so does the death toll, it would surely be higher. So call it the 150,000-plus-life health-care plan.
Of course, from their insistence that past Tea Party marches drew 2,000,000 (and not the 70,000 who actually showed up) to Washington to their belief that Medicare is not a government program and so much more, what Tea Baggers don't know is a lot. And despite the statistics showing America's 50,000.000 uninsured, 25 million more underinsured, millions of medical bankruptcies and an epidemic of self-rationing, the Tea Party movement instead echoes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in warning of "reform that denies, delays, or rations health care" and a public option that "may cost you your life."
On Tuesday alone, the nation's private health insurers aided and abetted by health care reform's willing executioners in the Republican and Tea Parties will stand by - and lie down - as another 122 of their fellow Americans die due to lack of insurance.
It's no wonder conservatives are worried about the rise of Tea Bagger as an epithet.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)