About 5 million people across the country don’t earn enough to pay for medical insurance under the new government exchanges set up by Obamacare. Yet they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, the program partly funded by the states that covers the poorest people.
To address this problem, Obamacare required the states to expand Medicaid eligibility so that millions of
the working poor would receive health care. However, the Supreme Court in
its review of the new health care law ruled that states could not be
compelled to participate. Twenty-four states have declined.Their excuse is that expanding Medicaid will be too big a financial burden,
driving the them toward bankruptcy.
But how real is this threat? Not very. For the first three years of
Medicaid expansion the federal government picks up the full cost. After that it continues to fund at least 90
percent. Is there another reason for opposition to the Medicaid plan?
The answer is yes. All of the 24 rejectionist states are controlled by
Republicans—either by gubernatorial or legislative power, or both. And the
reason for opposing Medicaid expansion is hardly about balancing the budget. It
stems from a deep-seated hatred of Obamacare because it has the potential to
be a popular and successful government program and it was
created by a president they loathe. In Texas, for example, not only have
the legislature and governor refused to accept Medicaid funding, but they have
actively sought to prevent Obamacare insurance exchanges from signing up
clients. In Virginia the legislature has stymied attempts by the newly
elected Democratic governor to provide Medicaid for some 400,000 uninsured Virginians. They include thousands from the Appalachian region of the state, one of the poorest places in America.
Once again, large numbers of Americans are being victimized by extreme
(This post includes commentary originally posted on LaughingStockNation April 7, 2014.
See: 60 Minutes and the Missing Facts on Medicaid)