Short answer: It’s a lot.
A team of Harvard researchers recently released a deeply sobering study quantifying how many Americans stand to die needlessly in the unflinching states hellbent on denying Medicaid expansion, as provided by the Affordable Care Act. The study singles out Texas:
“In Texas, the largest state opting out of Medicaid expansion, 2,013,025 people who would otherwise have been insured will remain uninsured due to the opt-out decision. We estimate that Medicaid expansion in that state would have resulted in 184,192 fewer depression diagnoses, 62,610 fewer individuals suffering catastrophic medical expenditures, and between 1,840 and 3,035 fewer deaths.”
Crunching the numbers, the study suggests that Texas could bear almost 18 percent of a potential 17,104 unnecessary deaths nationwide. The figures are stark, damning, and presented with dispassionate and clinical precision—and yes, the study was quickly subjected to right-wing critics arguing the math.
You can read about the study here. The Observer story goes on to carp about the lack of media coverage of this issue, and while I agree that there ought to be a lot more written about it, at this point it pretty much has to be a campaign issue to be news. I hate to be one of those people telling the Wendy Davis campaign what to do – in part because I think most of the “advice” given to her has been in response to trivial matters, and in part because I doubt any of us armchair quarterbacks have any idea how to win statewide races – but I’d really like to see her jump all over this. I see no real downside for her in going big on economic populism, which includes Medicaid expansion and raising the minimum wage. The latter is broadly popular, including in Texas, and the former will put her on the side of most doctors and hospitals, as well as county officials. It fits with her overall message of breaking from the Rick Perry past that Greg Abbott represents and it will help drive turnout from the Democratic base, which is job one for her. We need to be talking about this, and that means we need Wendy Davis talking about it.