It’s looking tonight like the GOP will manage to pass some version of the AHCA, a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act and creating some kind of return to the pre-ACA status quo; hard to know exactly what, since the vote will be taken without the bill being publicly released, and the House has decided not to wait for the Congressional Budget Office to estimate just how much this bill will cost Americans.
GOP fans will say: “How can this be such a big disaster, crying liberals? Ten years ago there was no Obamacare, and people did fine.”
Some people did fine! Some people didn’t do fine.
You’ll hear people say, in the same sad snappish tone of voice, “Parents today are obsessed with safety, in my day kids rode in the way back of the station wagon, they didn’t wear seatbelts, they crossed the street by themselves, and they were fine.”
Some kids were fine! But just so you know: in 1975, about 1600 kids 13 and under were killed by cars as pedestrians, and another 1400 were killed in crashes while riding in cars. In 2015, those numbers were 186 and 663. Throw in teenagers and that’s another 8700 dead passengers in 1975; down to 2715 in 2015.
People did fine, except for the thousands of kids who got killed back then who wouldn’t get killed now.
A while ago I was reading the reunion book for the Harvard class of 1893, the people who graduated exactly 100 years before me. You know what you notice in their bios? A lot of people’s children died. In 1920, about 8% of American babies died before the age of 1. It’s now 0.6%.
People were fine! They had a baby, the baby died, they got on with their life.
But I like it better when babies hardly ever die, when thousands of children don’t get killed in car crashes, and when Americans have access to affordable health insurance even if they’ve been sick before. The past was fine. But it was also bad.