Republicans being the only major party among large liberal democracies that thinks of access to healthcare as a luxury good and most measures take to protect public health care fascism has serious consequences for many people Republican-controlled states:
Americans are more likely to die before age 65 than residents of similar nations,despite living in a country that spends substantially more per person on health care than its peers.
Many of those early deaths can be traced to decisions madeyears agoby local and statelawmakers over whether to implement cigarette taxes, invest in public health or tighten seat-belt regulations, among other policies, an examinationby The Washington Post found. States’ politics — and their resulting policies — are shaving years off American lives.
Ashtabula’s problems stand out compared with two nearby counties — Erie, Pa., and Chautauqua, N.Y. All three communities, which ring picturesque Lake Erie and are a short drive from each other, have struggled economically in recent decades as industrial jobs withered — conditions that contribute toward rising midlife mortality, research shows. None is a success story when it comes to health. But Ashtabula residents are much more likely to die young, especially from smoking, diabetes-related complications or motor vehicle accidents, than people living in its sister counties in Pennsylvania and New York, states that have adopted more stringent public health measures.
That pattern held true during the coronavirus pandemic, when Ashtabula residents died of covid at far higher rates than people in Chautauqua and Erie.
The differences around Lake Erie reflect a steady national shift in how public health decisions are being made and who’s making them.
State lawmakers gained autonomy over how to spend federal safety net dollars following Republican President Ronald Reagan’s push to empower the states in the 1980s. Those investments began to diverge sharply along red and blue lines, with conservative lawmakers often balking at public health initiatives they said cost too much or overstepped. Today, people in the South and Midwest, regions largelycontrolled by Republican state legislators, have increasingly higher chances of dying prematurely compared with those in the more Democratic Northeast and West, according to The Post’s analysis of death rates.
The differences in state policies directly correlate to those years lost, said Jennifer Karas Montez, director of the Center for Aging and Policy Studies at Syracuse University and author of several papers that describe the connection between politics and life expectancy.
Ohiosticks out — for all the wrong reasons. Roughly 1 in 5 Ohioans will die before they turn 65, according to Montez’s analysis using the state’s 2019 death rates. The state, whose legislature has been increasingly dominated by Republicans, has plummeted nationally when it comes to life expectancy rates, moving from middle of the packto the bottomfifth of statesduring the last 50 years, The Post found.Ohioans have a similar life expectancy to residents ofSlovakia and Ecuador, relatively poor countries.
The core goal of Republican politics is to give people a choice between the miracles of governance that are Mississippi and Ohio.