President Trump has proposed to cut $800 billion from the Medicaid budget expansion under former president Obama and Democrats warn that this will result in many poor people losing their lives. The same notion was made by Bernie Sanders when he claimed that repealing the Affordable Care Act is equivalent to letting 36,000 people die annually. However, statistics from the Manhattan Institute show that the expansion of Medicaid by the ACA bill saved essentially zero lives.

Research lead by Oren Cass found a significant increase in Medicaid enrollment among non-elderly Americans from 18.1% in 2007 to 25.3% in 2015. Despite an increased number of people gaining coverage through Medicaid, no evidence suggests that the mortality rates or health outcomes decreased. Key findings in this study were the expansion of Medicaid and public funding in general showed negative health outcomes, whereas increased coverage through private insurance showed positive health outcomes; in 2015 age-adjusted mortality rose and life expectancy declined for the first time in the United States since 1993; and states adopting the ACA’s optional Medicaid expansion performed worse than those rejecting it, mortality in 2015 rose more in Medicaid expansion states.

The conclusions in this study may seem counter-intuitive at a glance, but the reason may have to do with the fact that patients using Medicaid are more likely to have a variety of pre-existing medical conditions such as AIDS, end-stage renal disease, or metastatic cancer. A different study published by Stanford University in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the relationship between life expectancy and income in the United States and found that between 2001 and 2014 higher income is associated with increased longevity, but differences in longevity across income groups decreased in some areas and increased in others. Life expectancy among low-income individuals varied substantially across local areas. Geographic differences in life expectancy were significantly correlated with health behaviors such as smoking, but were not correlated with access to medical care, physical environmental factors, income inequality, or labor market conditions.

The data collected in these studies contradicts the narrative common in mainstream academia and media that the government is going to protect the poor from being neglected and left to die. Medicaid and other government health care programs do little to nothing to decrease mortality rates or make people healthier. Leftists that cannot accept this reality do not need to worry, Trumps cuts to Medicaid still result in increased spending on the program. It looks like conservatives yet again got duped by a big-government politician promising small government.