Politics Magazine

Republican Officials Think It's OK For Poor Mothers To Die

Posted on the 14 May 2014 by Jobsanger
Republican Officials Think It's OK For Poor Mothers To Die
The Republicans like to say the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) wasn't necessary, because the United States has the best medical system in the world. And on one level that is true. We have great doctors (and lots of them), great hospitals, and the best medical technology available anywhere in the world. And if you're rich (or have good health insurance), you can take advantage of that great medical care.
The problem is that the great medical care is not available to all the citizens of this country. Millions of citizens don't have the money, and can't afford the insurance, to be able to get adequate access to decent medical care -- especially preventive care (that could find serious illnesses early enough to fix them). Although it's far from perfect, Obamacare was created to help address this problem. It mandated quality insurance from private companies, gave subsidies to many to help them buy that insurance, and provided Medicaid coverage for those too poor to buy private insurance.
This should have provided even the poorest Americans with basic health insurance coverage. But it didn't -- and the reason it didn't is because the Republicans killed the expansion of Medicaid in about half of our states. I have already posted about how this purely political move by the GOP is going to cost thousands of American lives each year (the lowest estimate being about 7,000 unnecessary deaths, and the highest estimate being slightly more than 17,000 unnecessary deaths).
Now we learn that these unnecessary deaths will even involve mothers giving birth. A new report  by The Lancet (a British medical journal) shows that the United States, the richest nation in the world, pages far behind all other developed nations in the maternal mortality rate (MMR). In fact, it even ranks behind many developing nations -- ranking 60th out of 180 nations (see the above map from the report). Other developed nations have a maternal mortality rate of less than 10 deaths per 100,000 births (with Iceland having the lowest rate at 2.4). By comparison, the MMR in the United States is 18.5 deaths per 100,000 births. Here is how The National Memo sums up this report:
For much of the last decade, maternal mortality rates (MMRs) have declined globally. But in the United States, they have consistently increased and are now at one of the highest points in the last 25 years. If conservatives have their way with social and economic policy, it’s unlikely the U.S. will make significant strides to improve the health of mothers in the near future. According to a report released last week in the The Lancet, the U.S. now ranks 60th out of 180 countries for maternal deaths. China is number 57. Only seven other countries experienced an increase in MMR over the past 10 years. They include Greece, Afghanistan, and South Sudan. The report estimates that for every 100,000 births, 18.5 mothers die in the U.S. By comparison, 13.5 women die in Iran, 6.1 in the United Kingdom, and only 2.4 in Iceland. It is no coincidence that the U.S. MMR has increased as poverty rates have steadily climbed. In 2010, Amnesty International released a report that showed women living in the lowest-income areas were twice as likely to suffer a maternal death. States with high rates of poverty were found to have MMRs 77 percent higher than states with fewer residents living below the federal poverty level. Women of color have poverty rates more than double those of white women, and black women are 3-4 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes. . . Expanding Medicaid would save women’s lives. A 2010 study conducted in New York City showed that the MMR for women with no insurance was approximately four times higher than for insured women, and that the rate for women insured by Medicaid was comparable to that of women with private insurance. This is inexcusable. There is no justifiable reason why the United States, the richest nation with the best doctors and technology, should rank 60th in the maternal mortality rate. We should rank first -- because we have the money, the knowledge, and the technology to save most of these lives. What we don't have is the political will among Republican officials in power to solve the problem.
There are a couple of reasons for this hard-hearted view by GOP officials. First, they don't consider health care to be a right of all humans. For them it is just another product to sell for a profit, and if a person can't afford it that's just too bad. Second, they are afraid if health care is offered to the poor then their rich benefactors might have to pay a little more in taxes -- and they have chosen to see poor people die instead of taxing rich people a little more.
The truly sad part is that we have a health care reform in place (Obamacare) that would significantly reduce the maternal mortality rate in the United States. Just expanding Medicaid to the poor mothers in all 50 states would accomplish that. Aren't lives (even the lives of the poor) more important than politics? If you answer yes to that question, then it should be a moral imperative to vote against the Republican Party in the coming election -- and if you answer no, then I have to question both your humanity and morality.  

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