How would Andy Saas’ life be different if Obamacare had never become law and Kentucky’s former governor hadn’t accepted Medicaid expansion?
“I would end up with no teeth in my face.”
That’s what Saas told Politico’s Rachana Pradhan for a must-read investigation into the inequities of Medicaid expansion.
A door-to-door meat salesperson who also runs recovery houses for former addicts, Saas hadn’t had a regular doctor in 16 years. Since his Medicaid coverage went into effect, he’s had dental work and gotten to see a gastrointestinal specialist — despite being haunted by medical debt from a hospital stay in his pre-Obamacare days.
His life and health would be very different if he were living one state away in Tennessee, where Donnie Gene Rippy “fell off a roof while shooing away ducks, breaking his back and too many bones to count.”
After four surgeries to fix his shoulder, wrists and vocal cords, he’s mired in pain, mood issues and debt, all compounded exponentially by happenstance of living in a Republican state with Republican leaders willing to let their residents suffer and die rather than accept coverage that their state is paying for anyway.
“In several states that expanded Medicaid before the ACA—including New York, Maine and Arizona—death rates dropped, with the greatest reductions seen among older adults, minorities and those living in poorer counties,” Pradhan wrote.
Of all the intentional miseries Republicans have inflicted since Barack Obama stepped into the White House, none is more sadistic than the denial of Medicaid coverage to the working poor. And none could be reversed more quickly with a sudden burst of conscience — or inevitability.
Louisiana’s new Democratic governor John Edwards, who has used expansion to insure more than 200,000, predicts a “number of states” would accept the coverage “quickly” if Hillary Clinton wins in November and the reality that Obamacare isn’t going to overturned sets in.
So let this be a reminder of not only what’s at stake in November but of Republican willingness to allow harm to be inflicted on their fellow Americans in the name of “conservative beliefs.” It’s also a searing reminder that Democrats lack any ability to summon the shame the right deserves in order to pressure them into doing the right thing.
If you have any doubt about that, ask Donnie Gene Rippy of Tennessee.
[Map by KFF.org]