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Friday, 11 April 2014 05:37

Republican Governors and Legislatures Are Killing People by Not Expanding Medicaid

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acharlene(Photo: Adrian Snood)Republican governors generally love to bandy about being so-called "pro-life" due to their opposition to abortions.  It is a tragically ironic and hypocritical stance considering that many of them (particularly in the South) are allowing people to die because of a political refusal to expand Medicaid.  

Apparently, to the GOP - which has been obsessed with destroying the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - life is only "sacred" for the unborn.  Once you are a delivered baby, you're on your own.

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) and the Republican legislature in Florida are likely responsible for the death of 32-year-old Charlene Dill, a mother of three separated from her husband. Dill did everything the anti-poor warriors in DC demands of those with limited money: She worked three jobs, budgeted her expenses and cared for her children. But she couldn't afford adequate medical care.

She died of heart failure while selling vacuum cleaners on commission.  What could be a more Republican Tea Party story of working tirelessly to provide for one's kids - and then dying because of not being able to afford health care?

The Orlando Weekly, which posted an extensive story on Dill's premature passing, provided some detail:

On March 21, Dill was supposed to bring her three children over to the South Orlando home of her best friend, Kathleen Voss Woolrich. The two had cultivated a close friendship since 2008; they shared all the resources that they had, from debit-card PINs to transportation to baby-sitting and house keys. They helped one another out, forming a safety net where there wasn’t one already. They “hustled,” as Woolrich describes it, picking up short-term work, going out to any event they could get free tickets to, living the high life on the low-down, cleaning houses for friends to afford tampons and shampoo. They were the working poor, and they existed in the shadows of the economic recovery that has yet to reach many average people.

Only Dill never arrived: she lost her life on the floor of a couple she was trying to sell a vacuum cleaner to. They didn't even know her. 

Dill's children are ages 3, 7 and 9.

The Orlando Weekly notes:

Dill’s death was not unpredictable, nor was it unpreventable. She had a documented heart condition for which she took medication. But she also happened to be one of the people who fall within the gap created by the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, which was a key part of the Affordable Care Act’s intention to make health care available to everyone.

As of March 28, 2014, according to a health care tracking site, only 26 states have officially accepted the Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The entire South has rejected Medicaid gap coverage (along with other solid Republican states - including Tea Party governors in Wisconsin and Maine) which is inititally fully funded by the federal government, eventually settling at 90% of the Medicaid expansion under the ACA being covered by DC.

The Kaiser Foundation estimates:

Nationally, nearly five million poor uninsured adults will fall into the “coverage gap” that results from state decisions not to expand Medicaid... meaning their income is above current Medicaid eligibility but below the lower limit for Marketplace premium tax credits. These individuals would have been newly-eligible for Medicaid had their state chosen to expand coverage. More than a fifth of people in the coverage gap reside in Texas, which has both a large uninsured population and very limited Medicaid eligibility. Sixteen percent live in Florida, nine percent in Georgia, seven percent live in North Carolina, and six percent live in Pennsylvania.

The Orlando Weekly documents that when it comes to Medicaid expansion, life and death becomes a largely partisan issue, quoting Cong. Alan Grayson (D-FL):

“Charlene’s sad and unnecessary death illustrates what I have said all along: For the 1 million of Floridians who cannot afford health care coverage, the Republican health care plan is simply this: ‘Don’t get sick,’” Grayson says. “If you do get sick, and if you cannot afford coverage, the GOP has nothing for you but prayer. The Republicans have no answers, no alternatives, no ideas, no safety nets, no sympathy, no empathy and no compassion. Just these three words: ‘Don’t get sick.’ The GOP’s refusal to expand Medicaid, at no cost to Florida, has put the GOP’s appalling disregard for human life on full display. As far as they’re concerned, if you’re not a fetus, you’re on your own. The Republicans would literally rather watch people like Charlene die than give them the care that they need to stay healthy and alive. It’s disgusting and sadistic.”

The Kaiser Foundation analysis of states that have not expanded Medicaid concludes:

The ACA was passed with the goal of filling in gaps in the availability of affordable health coverage in the United States. Given particularly high uninsured rates for adults living below poverty, the expansion of Medicaid to all adults with incomes at or below 138% of poverty is a key component of this effort. In states that expand their Medicaid programs, millions of adults will gain Medicaid eligibility under the law. However, with many states opting not to implement the Medicaid expansion, millions of adults will remain outside the reach of the ACA and continue to have limited, if any, option for health coverage: most do not have access to employer-based coverage through a job, few can afford coverage on their own, and most are currently ineligible for public coverage in their state. While a small share may be eligible to purchase subsidized coverage through the new Health Insurance Marketplaces, most have incomes below the poverty level and thus will be ineligible for these premium tax credits. 

Charlene Dill worked tirelessly, but did not find an escape hatch waiting for her. Instead, she needlessly died.

Florida Governor Scott, his legislature and 23 other states across the land comprise the new GOP death panels - as Thom Hartmann states in reflecting upon Dill.

They have decided who shall have a chance to live, and who will be left to die if they are in medical need.

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