If you liked the “public option”, you’ll LOVE Medicaid expansion
When the Affordable Care Act takes full effect in 2014, millions of Americans will have the freedom of knowing that they’re not one trip to the emergency room away from bankruptcy.
They won’t have to be afraid of telling a doctor about a health problem for fear of being branded with an unaffordable pre-existing condition.
And they won’t be stuck in their jobs, unable to take risks without losing the insurance their family desperately needs.
But, because of the Supreme Court’s half-good decision last year, states can opt out of Medicaid expansion. Of course, the 10 states that have already opted out are examples of states that need Medicaid most, red states where the policies punish the poor at the expense of the rich. Thus a huge chunk of the 17 million eligible Americans earning up to 133% of the poverty level who could have all of the freedoms I’ve described won’t.
The biggest tragedy is that Republican governors of blue states that voted for President Obama — like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin — are appealing to their base and threatening to turn down the expansion, even though the federal government will fund it 100%. That percent goes down to 90% by 2020. States currently receive 60% of Medicaid funding from the federal government.
So far, I haven’t been able to get people as enraged as I am about this ridiculous, slow-motion tragedy. But now Republicans in Michigan are trying to prevent Medicaid expansion, denying up to up to 670,000 of the states hardest working citizens. So, here’s another shot in convenient list form.
1. Medicaid expansion is the public option for the Americans who need it most.
Democrats were enraged when the public option, which would have given Americans the chance to buy a federal government insurance plan, was dropped from the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid is a public program provided for free. The poorest Americans already have Medicaid. The expansion will cover the working poor who need it most and who risk the most if they get sick. Are we going to just let a tiny number of Republicans deny this right we’ve already fought for and won?
2. Saying “no” to expansion will cost everyone in the state.
The reason America pays the most for health care of all the industrialized countries in the world and gets nearly the worst results is that we cover everyone in the dumbest possible way, thanks to Ronald Reagan. When people can’t pay their emergency room bills, the cost is passed on to us. The lack of insurance means that when Americans hit 65 and get Medicare they’ve often had no medical care in decades, costing us all more. Medicaid expansion will improve this situation dramatically and slow the growth of health care costs, which is driving our long-term debt. If Republican governors say no, not only will they still have the same number of uninsured citizens, but their hospitals will be receiving less reimbursement for Medicaid and Medicare as part of Obamacare reforms. Guess who will pay? YOU.
“It would be, in my opinion, more harmful on just about every level to not expand Medicaid,” said physician Randy Wexler, who also teaches at Ohio State University.
3. You pay for expansion even if you don’t take it.
The companies and citizens being taxed to pay for the Affordable Care Act pay if the state accepts expansion or not. So if you say “no,” red states, you’re just saying “yes” to funding the Medicaid expansion of blue states.
4. If you say “no,” people will die unnecessarily.
26,000 to 45,000 Americans die every year for lack of insurance. It’s estimated that Medicaid expansion could save 5,000 of them. That, of course, doesn’t break down to 100 people per state, but it does mean that people will be alive in 2015 because states accept Medicaid expansion now.
5. Even if you say “no” to Medicaid expansion, your state will still have to cover immigrants.
Because of a quirk in the Supreme Court’s ruling, states can say no to covering their citizens but not to covering immigrants. So, Republican governor, try telling your voters why they aren’t being covered while new legal immigrants are.